Filling Couscous Salad with Cilantro, Lime, and Cauliflower
I’ve been wondering…
Is it even possible for something to taste bad when it is loaded with fresh cilantro and lime?
I’m sure it can. But, I’ve never had a bad cilantro and lime experience.
Which is why this couscous salad is loaded with fresh cilantro and lime. It is fresh, zesty, and a delicious way to cook couscous. This dish is perfect for a summer side dish or vegan lunch.
This healthy couscous salad is just what you need for easy meal prep. It is quick to make and only uses a few ingredients. You’ll be excited to dig into your lunch the next day at work for the blast of summer that awaits you.
Keep reading to see how to cook with couscous for an amazing and refreshing meal!
What is Couscous?
You may normally think of couscous as a grain, but it’s not. Couscous is actually more like pasta.
Couscous is tiny dried pellets of crushed whole durum or semolina flour that has been sprinkled with water. This is the same flour used in common dried Italian pastas. Egg-less fresh pasta shapes like orecchiette, pici, and cavatelli also use semolina flour.
Couscous is a widely used ingredient in North African cooking. It is also a staple food in France where North African immigrants brought it.
Is Couscous Healthy?
You will most likely find regular and whole wheat couscous at your grocery store. Opt for whole wheat couscous if possible. It will have more nutrients, fiber, and protein.
Couscous is high in selenium. According to Healthline, selenium is an antioxidant that helps your body repair damaged cells, boost immunity, and may reduce the risk of cancer.
Types of Couscous
Here is a rundown of the several types of couscous you may find:
Moroccan – The smallest type of couscous, so it cooks the fastest. This is widely available and comes in whole durum wheat and semolina (sifted durum) varieties. Cooking by soaking with boiling water.
Israeli (or Pearl) – Larger than Moroccan. About as big as peppercorns, so it takes longer to cook. Also comes in whole durum or semolina varieties. Cook by simmering like you would cook pasta.
Lebanese – The largest variety of couscous. About the size of small peas. Cook the same way you would cook Israeli, just longer.
What Type of Couscous Should I Use?
Moroccan (or fine grain) couscous is typically available in most grocery stores. I used whole durum wheat fine grain couscous for this recipe and it couldn’t have turned out better.
But, this recipe is suitable for any other type of couscous. Follow couscous cooking instructions on the packaging or the next section.
How Do I Cook Couscous?
Couscous needs to be cooked differently depending on its size. Since size and flour types vary, your best bet is to cook according to the instructions on its packaging. If there are no instructions, here are some general guidelines:
Use the soaking method. Add 1 part boiling water (a little more if using whole wheat), 1 part couscous, and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt per cup of couscous. Cover and let soak 5-10 minutes.
Cook like you would pasta. Add couscous to a large pot of boiling salted water (should taste like seawater) and simmer according to the directions on the package.
How Long Does this Couscous Salad Keep?
This salad will last 4-5 days covered in the refrigerator.
It is a great meal prep dish that you can eat for lunch or dinner throughout the week. It is also great warm or cold. So, consider scaling up the recipe.
Storing this Couscous Salad
This couscous salad should be stored, covered in the refrigerator. I love these OXO glass containers for storing completed dishes like this one. You can store, cover, and serve all in one container. They’re great for meal prepped lunches.
How-to Buy Ingredients for This Couscous Salad
Here are a few tips for buying the highest quality ingredients for this recipe:
Couscous – See previous sections about couscous. Opt for whole wheat varieties for its health benefits. Fine grain couscous is preferred and the most widely available, but any type will work.
Cauliflower – Look for densely packed cauliflower heads that do not have any blemishes or spots.
Lime – Choose heavy, green limes that have a little bit of give when gentry squeezed. This softness indicates that the limes are juicy. But not too soft, or that means it is overripe.
Cilantro – Cilantro is a spring herb that you can grow yourself in a pot or garden. If purchasing fresh cilantro from the grocery store, look for a bunch that is bright green with no spots, shriveled leaves, or drooping stems..
Garlic – When picking garlic, choose a bulb that is heavy and firm with tight skin. It shouldn’t have any soft spots.
Radish – Pick bunches that have firm, bright bulbs and perky green leaves. Avoid bulbs with discolorations, soft spots, and droopy leaves.
Olive Oil – Extra virgin is best. This oil from California Olive Ranch offers the best price, taste, and availability combination. It is what I use every day.
Variations to this Couscous Salad
Here are a few ideas to switch up this salad based on your preferences.
Toss in some roasted chicken – Add some of this buttermilk roasted chicken to make this a filling meal.
Add a few eggs – Follow the directions in this potato salad recipe to make two 7-minute hard boiled eggs. Break up the eggs and toss.
Top it with avocado – What else goes great with cilantro and lime? Avocado. Slice one or two up and top this salad with it.
Use another dressing – There are plenty of dressings in this list of 10 healthy homemade dressings that would be perfect for this salad.
Make gluten free – Substitute farro, quinoa, rice, or other gluten free grain for the couscous.
Cilantro and Lime Couscous Salad with Roasted Cauliflower
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 lime, juice only (about 2 tbsp.)
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 4 radishes, thinly sliced with a knife or mandoline
- 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup currants or raisins (roughly chopped if using raisins)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Toss cauliflower, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and 1 tsp. salt on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes until the bottom side is brown and crispy. Toss and roast the other side until brown and crispy, 15-20 minutes.
- While cauliflower is roasting, prepare the couscous and dressing. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil (1.25 cup if using whole wheat couscous). Add 1/4 tsp. kosher salt and the couscous. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 5-10 minutes while couscous absorbs the water.
- Combine the lime juice, garlic, 4 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and plenty of fresh black pepper to a large bowl.
- Add couscous to the bowl and toss to coat in the dressing. Then add the cauliflower, radishes, currants (or raisins), and cilantro. Toss gently to combine. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Salad will last 4-5 days covered in the refrigerator.