Mediterranean Couscous Salad
I feel like it went from 50oF to 85oF outside in no time at all! Anyone else feeling this way? With the temperature growing by the day, I have been craving cold foods with lots of crunch and zest. This Mediterranean Couscous Salad is filling and flavorful, but fresh and light at the same time. Recently, I've been enjoying this lettuce-less Mediterranean salad as part of lunches during my work week paired with chicken or hummus and grapes - hits the spot! It's packed with couscous, savory feta, fresh parsley, tomatoes, tangy olives, and more for a flavor combination that is out of this world delicious.
Lettuce-Less Grain Salad
I'm from the south where the term "salad" could very well refer to a crunchy, green, lettuce-FILLED salad or lettuce-LESS deli style salad with lots and lots of an ingredient that I can hardly stand... mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is just one of those foods I have never enjoyed for as long as I can remember. So, I tend to steer of most lettuce-less deli salads (chicken salad, tuna salad, and egg salad are OK if they're not too mayonnaise-y), but I love a fresh and herby lettuce-less (and mayo-less) grain salad like this Mediterranean Couscous Salad!
Packed with flavor and nutrition from simple ingredients like hearty couscous, savory feta, fresh parsley, antioxidant-rich tomatoes, zesty lemon juice, tangy olives, and heart healthy olive oil, this lettuce-less, Mediterranean-inspired, grain salad fits right in with the Mediterranean style of eating.
If you like the fresh flavors in this recipe, you may also like: Caprese Chicken Pasta, Tomato Basil Hummus Toast, 5-Minute Herby Avocado Yogurt Dip
What is The Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a style of eating based on the traditional cuisine of countries near the Mediterranean Sea, namely Greece and Italy. This eating style is one of the few diets that has actually been shown and recommended to promote overall health and prevent certain chronic diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and heart disease.
The Mediterranean diet is a tasty and nourishing way to eat. Regular consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, poultry and seafood, and olive oil as well as limited consumption of red meats, fried foods, and full-fat dairy are some of the main components of the Mediterranean diet.
For 5 simple and doable tips on how to incorporate more vegetables into your meals, snacks, and all around life check out my blog post 5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Vegetable Intake.
Embrace the Mediterranean Lifestyle
In addition to regularly incorporating nourishing foods into your meals and snacks, sharing meals with loved ones and staying physically active are two more components of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Per the American Heart Association, it is recommend that adults participate in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week as well as 2 or more days of moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity per week.
Embrace the Mediterranean lifestyle by whipping up a double batch of this Mediterranean Couscous Salad for your next potluck dinner, then get your loved ones to join you for a walk, bike ride, or game of frisbee outside afterwards!
For more on the Mediterranean diet, check out this page from the Mayo Clinic and this article from Today's Dietitian.
What’s in This Recipe?
Lemon juice – contains vitamin C
Olive oil – rich in unsaturated fatty acids, linked with lower LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and higher HDL cholesterol levels
Dijon mustard – adds flavor
Seasonings – salt, garlic powder, and black pepper
Couscous – rich in energizing carbohydrates
Kalamata olives – contains polyphenols
Italian parsley – adds flavor, contains antioxidant properties
Feta – traditionally fermented and made with goat's milk or sheep's milk
Cherry tomatoes – rich in the antioxidant lycopene
Notes: This recipe is vegetarian; omit the cheese to make it vegan**. To make his recipe gluten free*, use cooked and cooled quinoa or chickpeas in place of couscous.
Mediterranean Couscous Salad
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30-35 minutes
Juice of 1/2 lemon plus more for garnishing
1 tbsp. olive oil plus
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Black pepper to taste
1 cup Israeli couscous, cooked and cooled* (I like to use the Trader Joe's Harvest Grain Blend)
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley, packed
1/4 cup kalamata olives, drained
2 oz fresh feta (1/4 a block), cut into small cubes or 1/2 cup crumbled feta**
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Start by making the lemon olive oil dressing. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper to taste in a mason jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until emulsified
Add the cooked and cooled couscous, lemon olive oil dressing, and parsley to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Toss to combine.
Mix in the remaining ingredients. Season with additional pepper and salt was desired.
Serve at room temperature with a lemon wedge.
Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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