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Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Mint, Cucumber, and Feta

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Serves four to six.

  • by Jessica Bard from Fine Cooking
    Issue 98

This refreshing pasta salad, with its cool flavors of mint and cucumber, is a nice accompaniment to barbecued meats and a welcome contribution to a potluck.

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 medium English cucumber, peeled and finely diced (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh spearmint or pineapple mint leaves; additional sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice; more as needed
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup small-diced feta cheese

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts well-salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium heat, toast the couscous, stirring frequently, until golden-brown, about 7 minutes.

Cook the couscous in the boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water until cool. Pour the couscous into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the cucumber and mint.

In a small bowl, mix the oil, lemon juice and zest, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Stir in the feta. Add the feta mixture to the couscous, season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the mint sprigs.

Make Ahead Tips

You can refrigerate the salad for up to 4 hours; toss before serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 260; Fat (g): 15; Fat Calories (kcal): 130; Saturated Fat (g): 5; Protein (g): 8; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): 25; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 520; Cholesterol (mg): 20; Fiber (g): 2;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Made this the night before going on a picnic. Was lovely and was all eaten up! Would definitely be making again. Would be great to have some other giant couscous recipes :)

I made this salad with quinoa as I did not have any couscous. I also am not a big mint fan so I only used half and doubled the feta. Absolutely delicious!!! It also keeps well. I had it for lunch three days in a row - ***yummy***

I tend not to experiment with recipes until AFTER I've followed the recipe once. There is nothing I would do different. I used exact measures and only the ingredients listed...and it's fabulous! Could eat the whole bowl!

I made this salad with fregola sardina instead of couscous, as I had some of the former hanging around, and none of the latter. The salad is delicious and a great way to use up those few errant veggies you have hanging around-- I added scallions, a diced kohlrabi from my CSA box, and some diced carrots for color. All were excellent additions. The feta really makes the dish with its salty richness and tang. The salad was a great side dish for roasted chicken.

Excellent side dish for a BBQ potluck. Everyone said it was refreshing and delicious.

Brought this dish as a side to Easter dinner. The feta really over-powers this to me (I may not be a great fan of feta though) and the couscous really held the water from boiling. It was a nice side but not great.

Really liked this as a quick side. Do not skimp on the mint-needs lots of it, plus salt & pepper. Add some halved or quartered cherry tomatoes for color to this, as it really needs some. If you're calorie counting, use fat free feta. This would be a great summer lunch, maybe just serve it on sliced tomatoes or in a tomato shell.

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