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Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Olives, Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Preserved Lemon

Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Olives, Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Preserved Lemon
Prep Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: cous-cous, lemon, olives, salad
Servings: 8 Servings


  • 12 oz Israeli couscous about 2 cups dried
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 each shallot minced (about 1 oz)
  • 1 oz red wine vinegar
  • 3 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 each preserved lemon recipe (peel only, small diced)
  • 3 oz black oil cured olives pitted, cut in half
  • 10 oz whole tomatoes diced 1/2"
  • 5 oz cucumber peeled and diced 1/2"
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/8 oz fresh thyme chopped
  • 1/8 oz fresh mint chopped


  • Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the couscous and toast in the oil for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Carefully add the water (it will spatter), and bring to a low simmer over medium heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the pasta is tender and all the water is absorbed. Cool on a sheet pan until room temperature.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, and minced shallot. Season with salt a pepper to taste. You can also combine the dressing in a small jar and shake to combine as detailed in this post on making a basic vinaigrette. Mixing it in a jar makes for easy storage too!
  • Place the couscous in a large bowl with the diced preserved lemon, pitted olives, diced tomato, and diced cucumber. Combine with about 2 oz of the dressing to start. Reserve the rest of the dressing for a later salad, or to add more later if needed (if the salad sits sometimes it will absorb the dressing). Add in the fresh herbs and gently fold in the crumbled goat cheese. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.


This salad would be great served with marinated and grilled chicken, grilled fish, or even grilled lamb or goat skewers.
If you're not familiar with Israeli couscous (also called Mediterranean or Pearl couscous) it's slightly different from North African couscous. It's still a pasta, typically made with semolina flour, but instead of looking like little grains, it's more the size of small peas.  It's usually toasted before cooking to give it a nutty flavor, similar to the Italian (Sardinian) pea sized pasta called fregola. This salad is inspired by the flavors surrounding the Mediterranean; olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, thyme, mint and preserved lemon. If you'd like to make it vegan, leave out the goat cheese, otherwise leave it in because it adds a nice tangy flavor and a bit of creamy texture to the salad.