Moroccan couscous salad is easy to make and has a light, fluffy texture. Make this recipe as a side dish to replace other grains and rice.
Couscous is a semolina cracked grain that resembles coarse cornmeal and is served alongside many different tagine dishes and roasted meats.
It is also wonderful chilled and dressed with fresh, bright vegetables in a salad or with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the top.
This particular African couscous recipe has a hint of curry plus some crunch from the almonds and pomegranate seeds.
Serve alongside beef kebabs or my Lamb Tagine with Dates and Apricots, which is made with a variety of spices and aromatics.
Or, try my Ptitim for a different take on this ancient grain. It’s an Israeli salad that’s made with larger pearl couscous and served chilled.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
Note: This is just a partial list of ingredients. For the full ingredient list, see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Couscous - There are several different kinds of couscous, so be sure to choose the Moroccan variety. It’s the smallest form of couscous and should be easy to find in any US supermarket.
- Slivered almonds - Instead of using them raw, toast the almonds to release the oils and enhance the overall flavor. Not only will they add crunch to the salad, but they’ll pair beautifully with the nutty flavor of the grain.
- Pomegranate seeds - These add extra color, texture, and flavor to this African couscous recipe. It’s best to use fresh arils, and you can find instructions on how to remove them in the recipe notes below.
How to make Moroccan couscous salad
The key to cooking couscous is using seasoned water, never plain, to infuse the dish with flavor.
Also, it’s important to remember that couscous needs to be steamed, not boiled. Boiling takes the life out of the grain, while steaming creates a perfectly moist and tender bite.
- Soak the couscous: Whisk together the warm water and seasoning (curry powder or Moroccan Seven Spice Blend), then pour over the couscous in a large baking dish. Let sit for about 10 minutes so the couscous can absorb the liquid.
- Massage and bake: Next, pour olive oil over the couscous and work your hands through the mixture to coat every grain and break up any clumps. Then, drop small pieces of butter over the top, cover with foil, and bake.
- Fluff and serve: Once done, remove the pan from the oven and let it rest before fluffing the grains thoroughly with a fork. Serve on a large platter with the toasted almonds and pomegranate seeds scattered over the top.
- Leftovers - Store the couscous in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave, adding a splash of water or vegetable stock to rehydrate the grains as needed.
- Freezing - Allow the dish to cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
- Make it more filling - If you’d like, try mixing some roasted vegetables, chickpeas, or peppers into the cooked couscous for a complete vegetarian meal.
- Play with different flavors - Because this recipe is so simple, you could easily make it without the almonds and pomegranates or try different seasonings for the soak.
How to seed a pomegranate
There are several different methods for removing those delicious, juicy arils, but this seems to be the most popular:
- Start by rolling the pomegranate around on the counter to loosen the seeds
- Next, run a paring knife around the middle of the fruit, cutting just deep enough to get through the rind.
- Pull apart the two halves, then hold them cut-side down over a bowl of water and tap the outside with a wooden spoon. Squeeze gently while doing this until all of the seeds are released.
- Finally, scoop the pomegranate arils out of the water with your hands or a slotted spoon.
Tip: If there are still some seeds stuck inside, break the fruit into smaller pieces and submerge them in the water. Then, use your fingers to release the remaining seeds.
Moroccan Couscous Salad
- 2 cups couscous rinsed and drained
- 1 tsp curry powder (See Note 1)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ⅔ cups warm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp butter separated
- ¼ cup blanched slivered almonds
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the couscous in an 13x9" baking dish.
- In a small bowl whisk the curry powder, salt and warm water together. Pour over the couscous in the baking dish. Stir to incorporate and allow to absorb all liquid for about 10 minutes.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the couscous and using your hands rub the couscous between your fingers, making sure to coat the grains and break up any lumps.
- Dot the top of the couscous with 2 tablespoons of the butter, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.
- In a small sauté pan lightly toast and brown the almonds in the remaining tablespoon of butter and sprinkle salt on top. Set aside on a paper towel to drain.
- Take the couscous from oven, let rest 5 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and fluff the couscous with a fork. Pile it on to a serving dish and scatter pomegranate seeds and almonds on top. Serve hot.
- While I love this using the curry powder, my Moroccan Seven Spice Blend is also another suggestion. So good!
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.