This lemon herb vegan pearl couscous salad, also known as Israeli couscous salad, is vibrant with lots of fresh vegetables and a zesty homemade lemon vinaigrette. It’s flavor-packed with ripe, juicy cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, fresh parsley, basil, and dill. Top it all off with crispy pan-fried garlic chickpeas!
Why You’ll Love This Vegan Couscous Salad
This lemon pearl couscous salad is easy to whip up. It’s filling enough to enjoy as a full meal but can also be served as a side dish, similar to my vegan caesar salad. It’s fresh and citrusy making it a great recipe for Spring or Summer.
- Tons of Fresh Vegetables: use ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, and crispy cucumbers for a variety of textures and flavors.
- Easy Homemade Black Pepper Lemon Dressing: this vegan couscous salad is flavored with zesty lemons, garlic, and high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Simple Recipe Hearty Enough for Dinner or as a Main Dish: the crispy chickpeas add a crunchy texture and lots of plant-based protein to keep you full!
- No Oven Required: this recipe uses the stove but not the oven, perfect for warmer weather!
What is Pearl Couscous?
Pearl couscous, often referred to as Israeli couscous or giant couscous, is a type of wheat pasta that originates from Israel. Its shape and size is similar to other small pasta like pastina or orzo, however, pearl couscous is toasted which gives it a delicious nutty flavor.
Pearl couscous can be found at your local grocery store. I bought mine from Trader Joe’s.
This vegan Israeli couscous salad is made with simple ingredients. While there may seem like this recipe has a lot of ingredients, each one adds a layer of extra flavor to the dish!
Here are the main ingredients you’ll need:
- Pearl / Israeli Couscous
- Vegetable Broth
- Red Onion
- Cherry Tomatoes, grape tomatoes
- English Cucumber
- Fresh Parsley, Basil, and Dill
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Black Pepper
- Canned Chickpeas, garbanzo beans
Substitutions & Add-ins
- Spinach, Arugula or other Greens: feel free to add your favorite greens like spinach to the mix.
- Shallot: the red onion can be swapped for a medium sized shallot.
- Fresh Garlic: the garlic can be subbed for garlic powder in the dressing.
- Pine Nuts: for even more nutty flavor add ¼ cup of toasted pine nuts to this salad.
- Chickpeas: sub these for white beans.
- Medium Pot- for the pearl couscous
- Small or Medium Saute Pan- for the chickpeas
- Small Mixing Bowl or Mason Jar- for the dressing
🎥 *Video Tutorial is Above the Recipe Card Below!*
Cooking the Pearl Couscous:
STEP 1: Add the olive oil and red onion to a pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
STEP 2: Then, add the dry, uncooked pearl couscous to the pot and saute in the onions for 1-2 minutes to slightly brown it.
STEP 3: Reduce the heat to low, add the vegetable stock, and simmer covered until the couscous absorbs the liquid (about 15 minutes). Fluff with a spoon or fork when done.
Black Pepper Lemon Dressing
STEP 4: Add all the ingredients for the dressing into a glass jar with a lid or a glass measuring cup. Shake well to combine.
Making Crispy Chickpeas
STEP 5: Add olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Add the drained chickpeas (patted dry with a paper towel). Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook for 5-10 minutes until crispy.
Assembling the Couscous Salad
STEP 6: Place the cooked couscous in a serving bowl or large mixing bowl. Add the veggies and herbs on top.
STEP 7: Toss the cooked couscous with the chopped cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, basil, dill, and crisp chickpeas in the large bowl.
STEP 8: Pour on the dressing and toss to coat everything.
Serving the Vegan Couscous Salad
This lemony couscous salad is ready to eat once you toss the couscous with the salad dressing!
Garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice, lemon zest, more fresh basil, and more salt or freshly ground black pepper to taste. You can even top everything off with a bit of red pepper flakes for a spicy kick!
It can be served cold, at room temperature, or warm.
The great thing about this salad is that it tastes even better the next day, perfect for meal prep! The longer the pearl couscous sits with the lemon dressing and fresh herbs, the more the flavors will develop.
It stores excellently in the fridge, too! Place it in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for 5-6 days. I don’t recommend freezing it.
Follow these simple tips for the best results!
- Use a low-sodium vegetable broth: this will help you control the amount of salt in the salad.
- Use fresh, good-quality produce and herbs: for the best flavor be sure to use ripe cherry tomatoes, fresh cucumbers and herbs.
- Season to taste: add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper to your specific liking!
Cucumbers, tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion or shallot, and greens like arugula all go well with couscous. Other vegetables that would go well with pearl couscous are black olives, Kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes!
Yes, regular couscous can be swapped for the Israeli couscous in this recipe. However, follow a 1:1 cooking ratio for the couscous and liquid. So if using 1 1/2 cups of couscous, you’ll want to use 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth. Follow the instructions written in the recipe below.
More Vegan Recipes & Side Dishes:
- Maple Balsamic Brussel Sprouts
- Tahini Glazed Rainbow Carrots
- Warm Farro Comfort Bowl with Sweet Potatoes
- Easy Yellow Jasmine Rice
- Easy Curry Sauce with Chickpeas
Did you make this lemon vegan couscous salad recipe?
I’d love to know! Leave a star rating and comment below!
Lemon Herb Pearl Couscous Salad (Vegan)
This lemon herb vegan pearl couscous salad, also known as Israeli couscous salad, is vibrant with lots of fresh vegetables and a zesty homemade lemon vinaigrette.
It’s flavor-packed with ripe, juicy cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, fresh parsley, basil, and dill. Top it all off with crispy pan-fried garlic chickpeas!
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or vegan butter
- ½ cup (70g) red onion or 1 small shallot, diced
- 1 ½ cups ( 227g) dried pearl (Israeli) couscous
- 1 ¾ cups (14 oz / 415 ml) low-sodium vegetable stock
- 1 cup (150g) diced english cucumber (about ½ a large cucumber)
- 1 cup (160g) halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp (5g) chopped fresh dill
- ¼ cup (10g) chopped fresh basil, packed
- ½ cup (18g) chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 15 oz can cooked garbanzo beans- drained, washed, patted dry
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
Simple Lemon Dressing:
- 1 tbsp lemon zest (about 1 ½ lemons)
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, grated (or sub ¼ tsp garlic powder)
- ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp agave nectar or maple syrup
- 1 tsp dijon or yellow mustard- optional to help emulsify the dressing
- In a medium sized pot over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and red onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onion starts to become translucent.
- Add the dry, uncooked pearl couscous to the pot and saute in the onions for 1-2 minutes to slightly brown it.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the vegetable stock, and simmer covered until the couscous absorbs the liquid (about 10-15 minutes). Fluff with a spoon or fork when done.
- While the couscous cooks, prep the veggies & herbs by chopping them.
- Add all the ingredients for the dressing into a glass jar with a lid or a glass measuring cup.
- Shake the ingredients well to combine. Set aside or place in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Add olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Add the drained chickpeas (patted dry with a paper towel). Sprinkle on the salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Pan-fry for 5-10 minutes over medium heat until browned, crispy and slightly charred.
- Toss the cooked couscous with the chopped cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, basil, dill and crisp chickpeas. Pour on the dressing and toss to coat everything.
- Garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice, and more salt or fresh ground black pepper to taste.
Use a low-sodium vegetable broth: this will help you control the amount of salt in the salad.
Season to taste: add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper to your specific liking!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 289Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gSodium: 197mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 11gSugar: 9gProtein: 11g
Nutritional info is an estimate.
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