Moroccan Cauliflower and Couscous Salad

4.99 from 62 votes
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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.Moroccan cauliflower and couscous salad in a wooden serving bowl topped with herbs

This salad is simple, nutritious, and perfect for a light lunch or summer side dish.  (Pair with Shrimp Cakes or Tofu Skewers for an extra punch of protein.)

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.

The IngredientsRecipe ingredients in separate bowls on a grey board with labels

  • 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.

Pearl couscous salad being mixed with cauliflower and dressing in a serving bowl

The Directions:

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. Cauliflower florets being tossed in spices and roasted on a baking sheet

Step 2: Boil Pearl Couscous

Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium (2-quart) saucepan. Add the couscous and 1/2 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.Pearl couscous tossed with chickpeas in a saucepan

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.Olive oil, lemon juice, and spices mixed in a small white bowl

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.Roasted cauliflower, couscous, herbs, raisins, and almonds being mixed in a large bowl

Serving Suggestions:

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.

Moroccan Cauliflower and Couscous Salad being tossed with dressing in a large bowl

More Couscous Salad Recipes to Try:

Salmon Couscous Salad with Feta Dressing

Shrimp and Tomato-Fennel Couscous Salad

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

4.99 from 62 votes

Moroccan Cauliflower and Couscous Salad

Moroccan Couscous Salad with spice-roasted cauliflower, almonds, and dried fruit tossed in a lemony paprika dressing. This salad is brimming with feel-good, filling ingredients, and is perfect for weekday lunches.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • Large rimmed baking sheet
  • Medium Saucepan with Lid
  • Mixing bowls

Ingredients  

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 6 heaping cups)
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl couscous
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup raisins (sub chopped dates or dried apricots)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped or torn mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped or torn parsley leaves

Lemony Paprika Dressing

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 grated (or finely minced) garlic clove
  • 3/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
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Instructions 

  • 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, 1/2 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 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium (2-quart) saucepan. Add the couscous and remaining 1/2 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 Dressing
    In 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.

Notes

Store: Store leftover salad in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 350kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 8.5g | Fat: 18g | Sodium: 680mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!

 

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4.99 from 62 votes (19 ratings without comment)

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59 Comments

  1. Abby says:

    5 stars
    Fantastic salad! It’s going on our dinner rotation! I did 1/4 cup Golden Raisins and 1/4 cup dates, and reduced mint to 2 TBSP. I would say that to eat it as a main it is 4 servings, not 6.

  2. Lena Hanner says:

    5 stars
    This salad is the BOMB! Love it so much I make it weekly or whenever I have cauli! x

  3. Kara says:

    This sounds delicious! I don’t care for raisins so would cranberries work, or should I just omit them?

  4. Cameron Mann says:

    5 stars
    This one is so delicious!! We have made it many times!

  5. Shannon says:

    Any idea how this would freeze?

    1. Sarah C Griffith says:

      5 stars
      Absolutely delicious! Easy to make and healthy. Can be eaten warm or cold. I served it as the temperature it reached when I finished the recipe, along with some sautéed eggplant. This recipe is a “keeper.”

  6. Mary-Ann Joseph says:

    5 stars
    This was SO delicious!! I have been impressed with all of the recipe I have tried from your site so far. Thank you.

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, my friend! Thank you for taking the time to leave a rating and review!

  7. Yasko says:

    5 stars
    This was soooo good! And really easy to make.

  8. Marcy Mintz says:

    5 stars
    Amazing- one of the very best salads I’ve had. Great warm

  9. Jess K. says:

    5 stars
    This was so good! We added shredded chicken to it and it was the perfect meal.

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      HI Jess – I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for taking the time to come back and leave a review!

  10. Beverly says:

    5 stars
    This is soooo ding dang delicious I just made it for the second time in 3 days. Have been having it for lunch every day and couldn’t bear to see it finished. Healthy, full of favour, just wonderful. Thank you so much for this recipe!