Spinach Couscous Salad with Feta is a feel-good salad recipe packed with flavor and texture. It’s healthy, herby, zesty, and oh-so-satisfying. Enjoy as a hearty main dish or side dish. Or make ahead and reap the fuss-free benefits of a grab-and-go lunch.
- Spinach Couscous Salad
- What is Pearl Couscous and How Does It Differ from Traditional Couscous?
- Why You’ll Love this Spinach Couscous Salad
- Recipe Ingredients
- How to Make a Spinach Couscous Salad: Step-By-Step Instructions
- Recipe Substitutions and Variations
- Expert Tips
- What Can I Serve with a Pearl Couscous Salad?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Health Benefits of Pearl Couscous
- More Salad Recipe Ideas
- Full Printable Recipe Card
- Pin Recipe for Later
Spinach Couscous Salad
This Spinach Couscous Salad contains a variety of flavors. It’s got fresh spinach leaves, chickpeas, red onions, lots of fresh herbs, and a little heat from red chili. And then you’ve got creamy feta, crunchy pistachios, and beautifully fragrant oranges. All those real food ingredients are combined with pearl couscous to create a beautifully vibrant and super-satisfying meal.
It may be a simple recipe, but this healthy salad is packed with nutrition and tastes INCREDIBLE too. It’s the perfect side dish AND is hearty enough to be a standalone meal. Plus, it’s robust enough to keep well in the fridge. That makes it an ideal meal prep recipe for grab-and-go lunches, or to make light of dinner prep.
If you’re looking for more delicious recipe ideas, I’ve got plenty more side dishes for you to choose from. How about a Homemade Chunky Salsa, Spicy Mango Salsa, or a fresh Summertime Tomato Salad with Basil Oil?
What is Pearl Couscous and How Does It Differ from Traditional Couscous?
If unfamiliar, pearl couscous, also known as Israeli couscous or giant couscous, is a type of pasta made from durum wheat semolina. It’s shaped into small round pearls and has a chewy consistency. I would say that it’s most similar to Orzo.
When you compare pearl couscous to traditional couscous, there are distinct differences in texture, size, and preparation method. While pearl couscous features larger, rounder grains that provide a heartier and chewier texture, similar to pasta, regular couscous has a much finer texture.
Additionally, pearl couscous is toasted before cooking, resulting in a subtle nutty flavor. Regular couscous, in contrast, is rehydrated with hot water (or stock), which results in a lighter and fluffier texture.
Regular couscous is commonly used as a side dish or a base for stews and tagines, while pearl couscous is a great base for salads like this one.
Why You’ll Love this Spinach Couscous Salad
- It’s meal prep friendly. This pearl couscous salad is fantastic for enjoying on the go. But it’s not just for busy-day packed lunches. It’s a great salad for potlucks, cookouts, and picnics too.
- It’s quick and easy. As minimal cooking is involved, this salad is ideal for those busy days when you need a nutritious meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
- And it’s SUPER DELICIOUS!
Here’s the list of ingredients that make this salad an absolute gem.
- Baby Spinach: Spinach is my favorite of the tender leafy greens because, nutrient-wise, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Its flavor is subtle and works well with the dish’s other ingredients.
- Pearl Couscous: I’m using Gefen Tricolor Pearl Couscous. But use whatever brand you can find at your local grocery store.
- Chickpeas: The salad’s main source of protein.
- Vegetable Stock or Vegetable Broth: To pump flavor into the couscous as it’s cooking. You could also use chicken broth if desired.
- Fresh Herbs: Fresh cilantro (coriander) and mint make this salad come alive.
- Red Onion: For some bite. Green onions make an excellent sub here.
- Pistachios: For some crunch.
- Feta Cheese: Adds creamy saltiness to every bite! Omit if you’re vegan.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: My favorite healthy fat.
- Orange: For its zesty, fruity, vibrant lift. I’ve tested this recipe with lemon juice, which is much too bitter in the needed quantity. I’d recommend avoiding that swap.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Adds some extra tang.
- Red Chili: A little heat adds to the excitement. You can sub with red pepper flakes if you’d like. Alternatively, use finely chopped red peppers if you’d rather have no heat.
- Sea Salt Flakes & Pepper: For a pop and a kick!
How to Make a Spinach Couscous Salad: Step-By-Step Instructions
Let’s jump into making this tasty spinach recipe. Here’s how:
- Pearl Couscous
Toast the uncooked couscous in extra virgin olive oil. Then, add the vegetable stock and gently simmer. Stir every so often as the couscous cooks. Once the couscous has softened but still has a nice bite, remove it from the heat, keep it covered, and stand. Fluff with a fork before tipping it into a large bowl.
- Salad Dressing
Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a jar. Pop on the lid and vigorously shake until it emulsifies.
- Dress Couscous
While the couscous is still warm, pour over roughly a quarter of the salad dressing and let the couscous soak up the flavors.
- Add Chickpeas
Add the chickpeas, herbs, and onions to the couscous and gently toss.
- Add Spinach
Add the fresh spinach leaves, crumbled feta, pistachios, and the remaining dressing do a final gentle toss. Serve and enjoy.
Exact ingredients and full recipe instructions can be found in the RECIPE CARD below. ⇩
Recipe Substitutions and Variations
To make this recipe work for YOU, feel free to make substitutions based on your own flavor preferences. Salads are so flexible that way. Here are some changes I often make depending on what ingredients are in my fridge.
- Cheese: Instead of feta, use soft goat’s cheese, small balls of mozzarella, shards of parmesan cheese, or crumbled gorgonzola. Alternatively, skip the cheese altogether.
- Nuts: What kind of nuts do you already have in your pantry? Almonds, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts are all fantastic additions.
- Salad Leaves: Tasty alternatives to baby spinach include arugula (rocket), mesclun, watercress, and red-leaf lettuce. Kale is also nice if you chop it finely or massage the tough leaves in olive oil first.
- Additions: This salad also tastes fantastic with a sprinkle of toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), a generous scoop of pickled red onions, some briney black olives, or tangy sundried tomatoes.
- Vegan Couscous Salad: Omit the feta cheese or replace it with your favorite vegan alternative.
1. How to Cook Pearl Couscous
To ensure the perfect texture and flavor, you first need to toast the couscous with oil to bring out its nutty flavor. Then add liquid and simmer until tender. Be sure not to overcook pearl couscous, as you want the pearls to be al dente and not overly sticky. As every brand differs, if you’re unsure, you can always refer to package instructions. Detailed cooking instructions can be found in the recipe card.
2. Liquid Ratio for Pearl Couscous
For best results, the ideal liquid ratio for cooking pearl couscous is 1 ¼ cups of liquid (such as water or broth) for every 1 cup of couscous. This ratio ensures that the couscous absorbs enough liquid to cook properly and achieve the desired texture.
3. Let the Couscous Absorb the Dressing
A dressing can take a good salad to an outrageously delicious salad. Coating with the dressing while still slightly warm allow the couscous to absorb the flavors better.
What Can I Serve with a Pearl Couscous Salad?
Thanks to hearty ingredients like pearl couscous, chickpeas, and pistachios, this Spinach Couscous Salad makes a satisfying lunch or dinner all on its own. But it also makes a great side dish!
Serve it alongside a Cheeseburger Frittata, Easy Spinach Feta Egg Cups, Vegan Cauliflower Soup, Nut Roast, Spiced Lamb Lettuce Wraps, Oven-Baked Chicken Dippers with a Creamy Chive Dip, or Homemade Burgers with Italian Herbs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! Spinach Couscous Salad is a healthy dish that’s loaded with nutritious ingredients. However, as “healthy” means different things to different people, enjoy this salad as part of a varied and balanced diet. Incorporating a variety of foods into your meals will help keep you feeling satisfied and nourished.
Yes, pearl couscous and Israeli couscous are the same thing. The names are used interchangeably to describe the same variety of couscous.
No, pearl couscous is not gluten-free. Pearl couscous is made from wheat flour, which contains gluten. Therefore, individuals with gluten sensitivities, celiac disease, or following a gluten-free diet should avoid consuming pearl couscous.
For those following the keto diet, pearl couscous is not keto-friendly. Pearl couscous is a type of pasta that’s made from wheat flour, so it contains carbohydrates.
Health Benefits of Pearl Couscous
Pearl couscous is an excellent source of protein and dietary fiber. Especially if you choose a whole wheat couscous or a tricolor variety that has extra ingredients like spinach added. So why is fiber so important? As well as keeping the digestive system healthy, fiber also plays a role in the following:
- Lowering cholesterol levels
- Promoting stable blood sugar levels
- Reducing inflammation
- Removing toxins from the body
- Promoting satiety, helping to keep weight in check [2, 3, 4]
That said, more than 90% of us adults in the UK are just not getting enough fiber in our diets  and may benefit from incorporating high-fiber foods like pearl couscous into our meals.
More Salad Recipe Ideas
If you love this Spinach Couscous Salad, try one of these tasty salads next time.
- Green Goddess Salad Recipe
- Summertime Tomato Salad with Basil Oil
- San Marzano Tomato Sauce and Rustic Vegetables
- Fresh Vegetable Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
- Herby Potato Salad with Homemade Salad Cream
- Creamy Purple Cabbage Slaw
Thinking of making this Spinach Couscous Salad? Please scroll down to the comments area and let me know – I ALWAYS LOVE hearing from you! Remember to leave a star rating ⭐️
Full Printable Recipe Card
Spinach Couscous Salad with Feta
If you love this recipe, rate it with 5 stars below!PRINT PIN RATE
- Chopping Board, (aka cutting board)
- Sauté Pan (Frying Pan), or Saucepan
- Wooden Spoon or Spatula
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Small Mason or Kilner Jar with Lid, or a small bowl with a whisk
- 1½ cups (270 g) pearl couscous, aka Israeli couscous
- ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1¾ cups (415 ml) vegetable stock, premade or make a batch with a low-sodium vegetable stock cube
- 14 oz (400 g) chickpeas, drained
- ½ red onion
- ½ cup (15 g) fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cup (15 g) fresh cilantro (coriander) , finely chopped (tender stalks are fine to include)
- 2 cups (60 g) fresh baby spinach
- ½ cup (75 g) crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup (30 g) shelled pistachios
- Prepare: Gather and prepare your ingredients.
- Couscous: Toast the uncooked couscous in extra virgin olive oil for about 2-3 minutes. Then, add the vegetable stock and gently simmer for 8-10 minutes. Stir every so often as the couscous cooks. Once the couscous has softened by still has a nice bite, remove it from the heat, keep it covered, and stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before tipping it into a large bowl. Tip: As all brands vary, check package directions for your dried couscous.
- Salad Dressing: Combine the salad dressing ingredients (extra virgin olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, apple cider vinegar, red chili, salt, and pepper) in a small jar. Pop on the lid and shake well until the dressing is well combined. Tip: if you don't have a jar, you can mix the dressing in a small bowl with a fork.
- Dress Couscous: While the couscous is still warm, add about a third of the salad dressing and let the couscous soak up the flavors. Add the chickpeas, red onion, mint, and cilantro (fresh coriander) to the couscous and gently toss. Next, add the spinach, crumbled feta, pistachios, and the remaining dressing, and give everything one final toss.
- Serve: You can serve immediately as a main dish or as a side dish. Alternatively, portion out into individual airtight containers or jars and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Nutrition Information (Per Serving)
Nutrition Disclaimer: Nutritional information is estimated using an online nutrition calculator. For accuracy, we recommend you calculate using the exact ingredients and brands you used.
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- Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/
- Soliman GA. Dietary Fiber, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients. 2019 May 23;11(5):1155. doi: 10.3390/nu11051155. PMID: 31126110; PMCID: PMC6566984. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
- Chandalia M, et al. Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. N Engl J Med. 2000 May 11;342(19):1392-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM200005113421903. PMID: 10805824. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10805824/
- King DE, et al. Effect of a High-Fiber Diet vs a Fiber-Supplemented Diet on C-Reactive Protein Level. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(5):502–506. doi:10.1001/archinte.167.5.502 Available at: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/