This Mediterranean pearl couscous salad has juicy roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic, and salty Kalamata olives.
It’s all tossed together with crumbled feta, fresh cucumber and thyme, and zesty lemon dressing.
This Mediterranean couscous pasta salad is a bit of a play on a greek salad, with olives, tomatoes, cucumber, and salty feta cheese. However, the pearl couscous brings a different twist.
It’s a great side dish to serve warm, or cold so you can easily make it ahead of time!
The ingredients amounts are listed in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. Here is a rundown of what you will need.
- Pearl couscous
- Cherry tomatoes
- Kalamata olives
- Fresh thyme sprigs
- Garlic cloves
- Fresh cucumber
- Feta cheese
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice and zest
- Maple syrup or honey
- Salt and black pepper
The bulk ingredient in this dish is pearl couscous which is much larger than regular couscous. This is also known as Israeli couscous, giant couscous or its proper name is Ptitim. It’s actually a type of pasta made of semolina flour, that when cooked, swells up into plump grains. You will find it in most grocery stores or bulk food stores. Ptitim recipes were first made in Israel in the 1950s when rice was scarce.
While cooking pearl couscous, it absorbs the water while it’s being cooked. This is when it really turns into giant couscous. It is a great time to impart more flavour to the dish by cooking the pearl couscous in vegetable stock as opposed to plain water.
As the couscous cooks, the small pearls absorb the water and are also absorbing all the lovely vegetable broth flavours. Once it’s tossed with the other ingredients, the salad has lots of texture from the mix of cooked and fresh ingredients.
Cherry tomatoes, garlic, Kalamata olives
Juicy, plump cherry tomatoes are roasted in a hot oven with Kalamata olives, fresh thyme, and garlic cloves.
The tomatoes burst in the heat and lightly caramelize which makes them even sweeter and tasty. The baked olives are extra good – if you’ve not tried baked olives before you totally should! Do choose good quality kalamata olives though, or home-brined olives.
The garlic is roasted in unpeeled cloves so it can soften and sweeten. Later it will be squeezed into the lemon dressing and impart a rich roasted garlic flavour.
Cucumber and feta
Crunchy cucumber pieces throughout the salad add a fresh touch and texture, while crumbled feta gives saltiness.
The salad dressing
The dressing consists of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, olive oil, maple syrup (or honey), roasted garlic, and salt. It’s very simple to make, just add it all to a jar, add on the lid and shake it up.
The method for this easy salad recipe is written in the recipe card below but I will run through the steps here too.
Step 1 – Preheat the oven.
Step 2 – Add the couscous to a large saucepan along with a little extra virgin olive oil and gently toast it over medium heat for a minute before pouring over cool water or vegetable stock. Let the water come to a simmer, then turn the heat down and let it keep cooking until the water has been absorbed by the pearl couscous. It should still have a slightly firm bite to it. Break it up a bit with a fork, then add it to a large bowl and leave it to cool to room temperature.
Step 3 – Add whole cherry tomatoes, olives, garlic cloves, and a few sprigs of thyme to a roasting tray. Drizzle over olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until the tomatoes have burst, the olives have wrinkled and the garlic is soft.
Step 4. Chop the cucumber into small cubes.
Step 5. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, maple syrup (or honey), and olive oil to a jar. Squeeze out the garlic from its skin and mash it up with the back of a knife. Add it to the jar. Screw on the lid and shake it vigorously. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Step 6. Add the roasted tomatoes, olives, and cucumber over top of the couscous. Crumble over the feta and a little fresh thyme. Drizzle lemon dressing over the couscous and toss it all together. Serve this delicious salad warm, or cool as an easy dinner, light lunch or side dish to the main course.
Leftover Mediterranean couscous salad stores well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The next day the salad is even more flavourful as the dressing will have been absorbed by the couscous.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups pearl couscous
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 tsp salt, if using unsalted stock
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives
- 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small cucumber
- 150 grams feta cheese
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 2 tsp maple syrup , or honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (374°F).
- Place a large pot over medium heat and add in 2 tablespoons olive oil and the pearl couscous. Toast the couscous for a minute, stirring constantly.
- Pour over the stock and the water (and salt if using unsalted stock) and bring it to a simmer. Turn the heat down and let it keep cooking until the water has been absorbed by the couscous. It should still have a slightly firm bite to it. Break it up a bit with a fork, then add it to a large bowl and leave it to cool.
- Add the 2 sprigs of thyme to a roasting tray and place the whole cherry tomatoes, the olives and the garlic cloves on top. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes have burst, the olives have wrinkled and the garlic is soft.
- Set the softened garlic aside for the dressing.
- Chop the cucumber into small cubes.
- Add lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, maple syrup (or honey) and olive oil to a jar. Squeeze out the garlic from its skin and mash it up with the back of a knife. Add it to the jar. Screw on the lid and shake it vigorously. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
- Add the roasted tomatoes, olives and cucumber over top of the couscous. Crumble over the feta. Strip the leaves off the remaining thyme sprigs and sprinkle them over too. Drizzle over the lemon dressing then toss it all together.
- Serve the salad warm, or cool.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 432Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 7gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 896mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 10g