Couscous Salad – Healthy Lunch Recipe

Whether you are on a diet or not, everyone can use a healthy (nutritious plus low-fat) lunch. Try this Couscous Salad recipe and prepare to be amazed how a “healthy salad” can take you through the day. It’s also perfect for those office potlucks or for picnics and barbecues. Packed with protein and lots of fiber, not to mention the beautiful assortment of colors, this couscous salad is sure to become a staple item in your home.

Prep Time: 20 minutes plus chilling time
Serves: 4


Couscous – 1 cup
Salt – 1/4 tsp or to taste
Boiling Water – 1 1/2 cups
Olive Oil – 1 Tbsp (optional)
Green Onions – 2-3 stalks (chopped)
Bell Pepper – 1/2 chopped, any color
Cucumber – 1/2 medium, peeled and chopped
Cilantro – 10 sprigs, chopped
Tomatoes – 2 medium or handful of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
Green Chilies – to taste, finely chopped
Garbanzo Beans – 15 oz can, washed and drained
Dried Cranberries – handful
Chopped Walnuts – handful
Salt – to taste
Black Pepper – to taste
Lemon/Lime Juice – to taste


1. In a bowl, add Couscous, Salt and Boiling Water. Mix well, cover and keep aside for 10 – 15 minutes.
2. Fluff couscous with a fork to make sure there are no lumps. Allow it to cool.
3. Add Olive Oil (optional) and mix thoroughly.
4. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. Adjust salt or lime juice..salad is a little on the tangy side.
5. Chill for at least 30 minutes and serve.

Tip: If you are not worried about calorie counting, try using a Balsamic Vinaigrette as a dressing for your couscous salad. It adds a whole different dimension and flavor.

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63 thoughts on “Couscous Salad – Healthy Lunch Recipe

  1. Hi Hetal & Anuja
    Sooo can I use dalia in this receipe?
    How long I have to soak it, if I use dalia?
    What will be the water ratio?

    1. Hi Radha,

      Couscous is a type of pasta. It is available in most US grocery stores (you can ask a store clerk to help you find it).

  2. I’m thinking of making this for office you think it would stay good if i make it the night before & refrigerate it ?..which would be almost 16 hours in the refrigerator before we eat it at lunch..

    1. Hi Fatima,

      This is a really great recipe for potlucks. You can definitely store it in the fridge and serve it the next day.

  3. I like the recipe and i would just like to ask if this was a Greek recipe. I’m looking for a Greek recipe for my school project.

  4. Hi Hetal and Anuja

    Saw ur recipe and thought of trying out couscous … Thanks 2 u both .. else would have never thought of making couscous …. well instead of salad .. I made a chicken curry with vegetables .. not Indian style … and it tasted yum with couscous … I felt couscous was much better than eating rice … 🙂 will make the salad soon …

  5. Hey Hetal, Anuja
    I would like to know if I can use pearled couscous. I have this at home just sitting for months. So after I saw your recipe I felt like making it. The one I have is basil & herbs flavor.

    1. Hi Sandhya,
      Due to the fresh vegetables in the salad, it is not advisable to freeze it. It is amazing how fast this gets over because it’s so yummy 🙂

    1. Shaheda,

      You can definitely squeeze fresh lemons to make homemade lemon juice. In the fridge, it will last only 2-3 days however, you can fill an ice cube tray with the juice and freeze it. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a ziploc bag. You can defrost only how many cubes you need. The rest will be fine for up to 4 months.

  6. I would like to use fresh Garbanzo Beans, b’cause I have lots of them at home. I just need to soak them right? Should I boil them also?

  7. you can find couscous from jewel, dominicks, meijer..anywhere..comes in little boxes and check in rice aisle…comes in 3-4 flavors

  8. Please let me know what ic couscous …
    here in kuwait we use broken wheat
    shall i use this or not ( it is used in making tabola)is it the same one …please let me know

    1. Hi Nancy,
      Couscous is small pasta and it’s roots are from Turkey, Morocco area. We are sure if you go to a local store, you will be able to find it. Other names for couscous: keskesu, kuskus, mftoul, seksu, ta’aam, kusksi, kisksu, cuscusu.
      In case you can’t find it, you can substitute it with Cracked Wheat, Wild or regular Rice, Quinoa. The cooking instructions for all of the substitutes are different from what we have mentioned in the recipe.
      Here is a recipe for a variation using Cracked Wheat:
      Enjoy 🙂

  9. What alternative to couscous can I use? Can I use broken wheat or dalia and by just adding a cup of boiling water(as in recipe) will it cook?

  10. hi
    Can u please post a recipe of “brown rice”… I’m having hard time making them..I’ll appreciate that….thanks!!

  11. Nice dish. It looks similar to Keen wah found in health food store.

    Hetal, your top looks nice .. both color and design :->)


    1. Thanks R! Both quinoa and couscous are similar in their nutritional content but you have to cook quinoa similar to rice. Couscous makes for a quick meal :).

    1. Hi Dipti,

      According to Wikipedia, “Couscous (pronounced /ˈkÊŠskÊŠs/ or /ˈkuːskuːs/) is a dish of spherical granules made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat and then coating them with finely ground wheat flour. The finished granules are about one millimetre in diameter before cooking.”

      It is readily available in most American grocery stores in the aisle that has pasta or rice, also check your international aisle (Middle Eastern). It is also available in health food stores.

  12. Hi Hetal & Anuja,

    Salad looks really nice. Is couscous same as “khaskhas”, we normally use it in sweet dish?


    1. Hi Mandeep,

      No, couscous and khaskhas are different. From Wikipedia, “Couscous (pronounced /ˈkÊŠskÊŠs/ or /ˈkuːskuːs/) is a dish of spherical granules made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat and then coating them with finely ground wheat flour. The finished granules are about one millimetre in diameter before cooking.” Khaskhas are poppy seeds.

  13. You said we could substitute it with Zuchini. Zuchini needs to be cooked and added or just raw. I havent tasted Zuchini, so dunno how it is like to use it…Is it like cucumber ?

    1. Hi Sonia,

      Zucchini can be had raw or lightly cooked. It is similar to a cucumber but it is a type of squash and has a mild flavor. If you prefer to lightly cook it, just add a teaspoon of oil to a skillet and sautee the zucchini for just a couple of minutes to get the raw flavor out. It becomes mushy fast. Wait until it is completely cooled before adding it to the salad.

  14. hey bfully u both explain things…salad looks delcious,wonderful ,healthy and filling …yum….i add green chickpeas to my couscous salad usually for tht color and its healthy too..wil post my recipe soon.u can check some hara chana dish recipes here if time permits


  15. Your website is such a great tool for learning about Indian cuisines — thank you both so much. A question I have is which type(s) of green chilies to buy when a recipe calls for “green chilies”? I’ve been using jalapenos, but after removing the seeds and membranes they don’t really give any heat. Which readily available chili do you recommend? (And I have a similar question about “chili powder” — the typically available chili powder I find is a mixture of Mexican style spices, not pure chilies. What should I use instead? Is there a particular item I should pick up at my local Indian grocer?) Thanks!

    1. Hi Linda,

      Both of us really like the heat so we use Thai chilies. Nowadays, even Walmart carries them. If you want more heat than what a jalapeno gives out, try Serano. They look similar to jalapenos but are a bit smaller and thinner and readily available. Some jalapenos also pack a punch…just don’t de-seed them. We almost never de-seed our peppers unless we intend to stuff them. Regarding chili powder, you should probably never pick up a packet that says “Chili Powder”. It will be like you said, a Mexican blend of spices used for making chili. Cayenne pepper may be written on the packet or if you go to an Indian grocer, it will say “Red Chili Powder”.

  16. Hi Girls..

    Great recipe…!!! i’ve seen a few recipes on food network with couscous…but this is gr8…!!! Thank u for the wonderful recipes tht u post…!!!!

  17. Hi

    I am eager to try this out. Is couscous same as poppy seeds(gasagasa in tamil, Khuskhus in Hindi)? correct me if I am wrong

        1. Actually, couscous is of middle eastern origin. It is used in West Africa, France, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus to name a few places beside U.S. It is rolled bits of semolina.

        2. Hi Priya,

          If you don’t get Couscous. Then I think you try with sooji ( Rava) Semolina. not the fine one but the course can be used as alternative. I think that will be more of like couscous….

        3. Couscous is closest in look and taste to daliya or cracked wheat -Even in the US it is usually available more easily in specialty stores! But all recipes with couscous can be recreated with daliya and still taste yummy!!

        1. Hi Ekta,
          Quinoa and Couscous are 2 different things. Couscous is a man made product, small pasta and originates from Turkey, Morocco…whereas, Quinoa is a seed and is from Peru and the that region. But you are right, you can get them both at the Whole Foods Store 🙂

  18. Hi both of you 🙂

    Actually I have been making your cracked wheat salad recipe using Couscous instead of wheat daliya. And its awesome, filling, healthy, nutricious,delicious….and what not!

    Keep posting such guilt-free and tasty recipes for all

    Well done!

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