Moroccan Couscous Salad with spice-roasted cauliflower, almonds, and dried fruit tossed in a lemony paprika dressing. This pearl couscous salad is brimming with filling, feel-good ingredients, and is perfect for weekday lunches.
The dressing pulls inspiration from Charmoula -- a traditional Moroccan sauce that's both used as a marinade and dressing. For a more pungent flavor, swap the lemon juice for minced preserved lemons.
If you are not familiar, pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous) is actually a small, lightly toasted pasta.
It’s quick-cooking and makes a fun change of pace in pasta salads like this one. I also love how mild in flavor it is, which allows the other ingredients to shine.
This salad holds up beautifully for make-ahead lunches. It can be enjoyed warm, chilled, or closer to room temperature. Low-maintenance salads for the win!
How to Make Moroccan Couscous Salad
This couscous salad blends fresh ingredients and zesty flavors, backed by a piquant dressing and toasty grains.
The mixture of warm, toasty spices balances the bright lemon dressing beautifully. While you can serve it alongside just about protein, I find it to be plenty filling just on its own.
- Pearl Couscous: While it resembles a tiny grain of rice or quinoa, couscous is actually pasta. It’s made from semolina flour and water, and cooks in just 10 to 15 minutes. For a gluten free alternative, you can also use quinoa in this salad.
- Cauliflower: You need 1 medium head of cauliflower, which should amount to roughly 6 cups of florets. Alternatively, look for a bag of pre-chopped florets for convenience.
- Chickpeas: Chickpeas are an easy, low-cost way to boost protein in salads like this. They also offer a great source of fiber.
- Almonds: Look for sliced almonds, which add the perfect subtle crunch. Alternatively, you can add pepitas, pine nuts, or pistachios.
- Raisins: I love the chewy sweetness of raisins in this salad, however you can also use chopped dates or dried apricots.
- Herbs: A mix of fresh parsley and mint brighten each bite with herbaceous flavor.
- Lemon: One juicy lemon should give you enough juice for the dressing. For a more pungent flavor, swap the lemon juice for minced preserved lemons.
- Spices: Moroccan cuisine is especially renowned for its spices, so this where the salad really shines! A mix of coriander, cumin, paprika, and turmeric bring the salad to life.
- Olive Oil: Use a good quality EVOO here - it's one of the predominant ingredients in the dressing.
Step 1: Roast Cauliflower
Heat oven to 425ºF and set a large rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack.
In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with olive oil, coriander, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Transfer to the hot baking sheet, spread in an even layer, and roast until crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
*No need to clean the bowl - you'll use it again to mix the salad ingredients.
Step 2: Boil Pearl Couscous
Bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil in a medium (2-quart) saucepan. Add the couscous and ½ tsp. salt, return to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Drain any excess water, and stir in chickpeas.
Step 3: Mix Dressing:
In a small bowl, combine parsley, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, and salt. Gradually stream in olive oil, while whisking constantly with a fork, until combined.
Step 4: Assemble Moroccan Couscous Salad
In a same bowl you used to season the cauliflower, add couscous and chickpea mixture, along with roasted cauliflower, almonds, raisins, mint, and parsley. Add dressing and toss to combine.
This salad is plenty filling on its own for a light lunch, however also pairs well with an array of proteins. Here are a few suggestions:
- Salmon: My absolute favorite pairing for this salad is my Honey-Harissa Baked Salmon. Talk about a Moroccan-inspired dream of a dinner.
- Shrimp: Top the salad with these delicious Shrimp Cakes or Greek-Marinated Shrimp Skewers.
- Tofu: Serve alongside this easy Balsamic Tofu for a completely vegan meal.
- Chicken: Toss shredded rotisserie chicken into the salad, or serve alongside grilled or roasted chicken.
Make-Ahead and Storage Tips
- Make-Ahead: Boil the couscous and roast the cauliflower up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the salad.
- Store: Store leftover pearl couscous salad in the fridge for up to 5 days. Enjoy chilled or closer to room temperature.
More Couscous Salad Recipes to Try:
If you give this pearl couscous salad a try, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates
Moroccan Cauliflower and Couscous Salad
- Large rimmed baking sheet
- Medium Saucepan with Lid
- Mixing bowls
- 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 6 heaping cups)
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- ¾ tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 cup uncooked pearl couscous
- 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds
- ⅓ cup raisins (sub chopped dates or dried apricots)
- ¼ cup roughly chopped or torn mint leaves
- ⅓ cup roughly chopped or torn parsley leaves
Lemony Paprika Dressing
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 grated (or finely minced) garlic clove
- ¾ tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- Heat oven to 425ºF and set a large rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack.In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with 3 Tbsp. olive oil, coriander, turmeric, ½ tsp. of the salt, and black pepper. Transfer to the hot baking sheet, spread in an even layer, and roast until crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once halfway through.*No need to clean the bowl - you'll use it again to mix the salad ingredients.
- Bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil in a medium (2-quart) saucepan. Add the couscous and remaining ½ tsp. salt, return to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Drain any excess water, and stir in chickpeas.
- Prepare Lemony Paprika DressingIn a small bowl, combine parsley, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, cumin, and salt. Gradually stream in olive oil, whisking constantly with a fork, until combined.In a same bowl you used to season the cauliflower, add couscous and chickpea mixture, along with roasted cauliflower, almonds, raisins, mint, and parsley. Add dressing and toss to combine. Enjoy warm, chilled, or closer to room temperature.