Israeli Couscous Chickpea Salad with Feta and Fresh Herbs
A delicious Israeli couscous chickpea salad loaded with fresh herbs and feta cheese. It’s the perfect salad to serve along with grilled chicken, seared salmon, or even shrimp. And it’s loaded with so much goodness, you could even serve it on its own!
Anyone else on the struggle bus for lunch and dinners this week? I’ll be the first one to raise my hand! This Israeli couscous chickpea salad is one that I came up with somewhat on a whim when I wanted something for dinner that was cold and refreshing. Anees had grilled up some chicken for dinner, and I was looking for a side that had a lot of flavor but could still be made with pantry staple ingredients and a handful of fresh herbs from the garden. Because right now, I’m that person that somehow managed to grow basil in my garden?!
Israeli couscous chickpea salad with creamy crumbled feta cheese, chickpeas, fresh basil, flat-leaf parsley, cherry tomatoes, and Kalamata olives is what it ended up being and it was so easy and delicious, I decided to share it with you!
What is Israeli couscous?
Israeli couscous or pearl couscous is made with semolina flour and is a small round shaped pasta. It is very different from traditional couscous which is crushed durum wheat semolina that is commonly used in North African dishes.
What do you need to make couscous chickpea salad?
- Israeli couscous: If you don’t have pearl couscous, you could also use orzo pasta or acini di pepe. Quinoa would also work well for this recipe.
- shallot: I like the mild flavor that a shallot adds to the dressing, but you could also use minced red onions if that’s what you have on hand.
- Minced garlic: one clove of garlic helps flavor and marinate the tomatoes for the salad.
- cherry tomatoes: I like to use small tomatoes for this recipe, however plum tomatoes cut into small chunks or wedges would also work. Bonus points if they’re homegrown!
- oil + honey + vinegar: Are the heart and soul of the vinaigrette we’ll be making for the salad.
- fresh lemon: You’ll need both fresh lemon zest and fresh lemon juice for this recipe. These ingredients help flavor the vinaigrette.
- chickpeas: A can of chickpeas adds protein and bulks up this recipe a bit. If you don’t have chickpeas on hand, you could swap them for great northern beans.
- kalamata olives: The briny olives add a delicious flavor to the salad.
- fresh herbs: Parsley and fresh basil add freshness to the salad and make it lighter and adds freshness.
- crumbled feta cheese: Crumbled feta and kalamata olives go together like PB&J. Feta adds a creamy touch to this salad.
How to make Couscous Chickpea Salad:
- Prepare the Israeli couscous: Add a drizzle of olive oil to a saucepan and toast the couscous in the oil for 1-2 minutes. Then, add water according to package directions and cook. Typically Israeli couscous takes 7-10 minute depending on the size but it’s always best to follow the instructions listed on the package for best results.
- Make the dressing and marinate the tomatoes: When the couscous is boiling, add the tomatoes to a small bowl along with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes (if desired) along with a pinch of black pepper and the minced garlic Toss the tomatoes and allow them to hang out while you make the dressing. The dressing is as simple as combing the minced shallots, lemon zest, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a mason jar and give it a shake until the dressing mixes. Taste and adjust with additional salt and pepper as needed.
- Assemble the salad: When the couscous is cooked, add it to a large bowl along with the chickpeas and kalamata olives. While it’s still warm, you’ll want to toss it with the prepared dressing so that the couscous and chickpeas can soak up all that flavor! Taste the salad at this point, and adjust with additional salt and pepper if it needs it. Then, add the fresh herbs marinated tomatoes and feta cheese. You can serve the salad at room temperature (I find the flavors are more pronounced this way) or you can allow it to cool down in the refrigerator before serving.
How long does leftover salad last?
You can keep leftover salad in an airtight container for up to 4 days. The flavors of the salad are even more pronounced on day 2 but the herbs do wilt down a bit.
What can I serve with this Israeli Couscous Chickpea Salad?
- Pan-seared salmon
- Roasted Herb Butter Spatchcock Chicken
- Greek grilled chicken
- Perfect 1-hour Whole Roasted Chicken
- Lemon Rosemary Chicken
- Garlic Butter Baked Salmon
- Garlic Butter Baked Chicken Breasts
- 1 ¼ cup Israeli couscous
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1-pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- olive oil, divided
- zest of 1 lemon (about ½ teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons EACH: red wine vinegar AND fresh lemon juice
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained + rinsed
- ½ cup EACH: sliced kalamata olives AND chopped parsley
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- 4 ounces of crumbled feta cheese
- kosher salt + black pepper
- COUSCOUS: Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the couscous and toast, stirring often until the couscous is golden, about 1-2 minutes. Then, add water and cook according to package directions, typically couscous takes 7-10 minutes based on the size.
- DRESSING + TOMATOES: While the couscous is boiling, add the tomato halves to a small bowl along with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes, black pepper, and minced garlic. Allow the tomatoes to marinate until ready to add to salad. While the tomatoes are marinating, combine the shallots, lemon zest, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt, a pinch of black pepper, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a mason jar and give it a shake until combined. Taste and adjust with additional seasonings as desired.
- SALAD: When the couscous has cooked, add it to a large bowl along with the chickpeas, and Kalamata olives. Toss to combined and dress the salad with the prepared dressing. Allow the salad to sit and for the couscous and chickpeas to soak up the salad dressing for about 20-30 minutes. You can taste and adjust with additional salt and pepper as needed. Then, add the chopped herbs, marinated tomatoes, and feta to the salad. You can serve the salad at room temperature or allow it to cool down in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving.
- The pearl couscous can be replaced with orzo or even 4 cups of cooked quinoa (1 1/4 cup dry).
- Leftover salad can be kept in an airtight container (or meal prep containers) for up to 4 days. The flavor is actually better as the salad sits!