This vibrant Israeli couscous salad is a brilliant side dish recipe for your next barbecue. It's also delicious as a main meal, especially with a little feta cheese. Or why not put it in a packed lunch or picnic?
One of my favourite chefs as far as food is concerned is Jamie Oliver. I love his cookery books as the recipes are easy to follow and I've never found anything not to work.
He also likes lots of the flavours I like such as chilli, garlic and lemon. He throws things together and doesn't worry too much about presentation.
Well, maybe he does, but he doesn't give the impression that he does. As I can't claim to produce the prettiest looking food, this is another thing I like to think I have in common with Mr Oliver.
Anyway, going back to the food, when I found out that I Heart Cooking Clubs was going to be concentrating on recipes by Jamie Oliver for the next 6 months, I decided it was a great excuse to get out my Jamie books and do some Jamie inspired meals.
This week the theme was Happy Days and we needed to choose a recipe that would make us happy. As I have the Happy Days with the Naked Chef book I decided it was the most appropriate place to look for such a recipe.
Ingredients for this salad
To make this couscous salad you'll need:
- Israeli (giant) couscous - But you can use plain old ordinary couscous too. Or orzo.
- Tomatoes - Any tomatoes work. You can use cherry tomatoes or larger tomatoes.
- Black olives - Use green ones if you don't have black ones. I like the way the black ones are a little stronger and stand out visually but just use your favourite ones!
- Chives - Definitely use fresh chives if you can but if you don't have any then you can use dried ones.
- Basil - Again, you really need fresh basil you make this salad taste it's best but if you are just making a quick and easy side and only have dried herbs then that's fine.
- Garlic - I use one fresh garlic clove.
- White wine vinegar - You could substitute this with cider vinegar.
- Extra virgin olive oil - The best olive oil will make a real difference!
- Seasoning - a pinch of salt and black pepper
Inspired by Jamie Oliver's best pasta salad
Although this side salad uses couscous, it's actually inspired by a Jamie Oliver pasta salad. When I came across The Best Pasta Salad, a simple, easy but tasty looking dish I'd never tried before, I decided it was perfect for the new springlike weather we are having. I adapted it a bit in terms of ingredients and quantities.
Firstly, I didn't use small pasta shells but Israeli couscous. Secondly, I didn't have any yellow cherry tomatoes so I used large red tomatoes. I also felt that 3 cloves of raw garlic was quite a lot! Although I made a slightly smaller quantity, I only used one garlic clove.
Can you make this Israeli couscous salad in advance?
This is a great salad to make in advance as the flavours have even more time to develop. I often make it earlier in the day or the day before. Because it can be made in advance it's a great salad for buffets or parties.
If you do make it advance it keeps well in the fridge for up to three days.
If you're looking for more easy recipes that can be made in advance or make enough for more than one meal then do check out my Cook Once Eat Twice recipe collection.
How could you adapt this Israeli couscous salad?
This salad is so versatile and there are endless ways you could adapt it. In fact, I'd advise just using the recipe as a starting point and then altering it as you fancy.
First of all, you don't have to use Israeli couscous. You could use normal couscous, pasta, rice or another grain.
You could vary the herbs depending on what you have at the time and which your favourite ones are. Parsley or coriander (cilantro) would work really well in here.
If you don't like or have black olives then use green ones. Feel free to vary the vegetables a little. Red pepper would go well as would some finely diced red or spring onions.
Finally, use your favourite vinegar. It doesn't have to be white wine vinegar. Cider, sherry or even balsamic vinegar will do. And if you don't have vinegar? Try lemon juice!
By the way, if you love eating salads for dinner then why not check out my recipe collection for main meal salads?
More Delicious Side Salad Recipes
I love making light salads throughout the year and these are some of my favourite easy side salads:
Israeli Couscous Salad
- 200 g Israeli (giant) couscous
- 300 g tomatoes diced
- 20 g black olives diced
- 1 tablespoon chives chopped
- 1 tablespoon basil chopped
- ½ cucumber diced
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch salt
- Pinch black pepper
- Cook the couscous according to the pack instructions. When ready, rinse in cold water and leave to drain.
- While the couscous is cooking, prepare all the vegetables.
- Put all the vegetables and herbs into a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, vinegar, garlic and olive oil. Mix. Add the couscous. Mix again. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.