A sweet, salty, and savory salad for warm weather dining
This Couscous Summer Salad starts with a base of tender pearl couscous then gets tossed with the very best of summer produce, including sweet nectarines, lightly charred sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, crunchy Persian cucumbers, and a sprinkle of fresh basil and mint. Salty feta cheese and bright lemon help round out this cool summer salad and give it depth. This sweet, salty, and savory side dish is the perfect pairing for all your warm-weather grilling and works beautifully as a main course for a light summer lunch.
What goes into a Couscous Summer Salad?
- Couscous – I prefer to use pearl couscous for this dish which is about the size of peppercorns and has a great bite to it — This tri-color pearl couscous is what I use most often. Pearl couscous is sometimes also referred to as Israeli couscous — though there is some debate about whether they’re technically the same thing. If you prefer, you can also use Moroccan couscous, the smallest variety closer in size to a small seed, or Lebanese couscous which is larger, about the size of a pea.
- Nectarines – These are best when enjoyed right at the peak of the season (in the US that’s July – September) and can be swapped for their close cousin peaches if desired.
- Sweet corn – I prefer my corn to have a bit of light char on it so I like to either use corn from cobs that have been grilled directly on the grill without their husks or use this great frozen option for roasted corn (defrosted). If you prefer traditional sweet corn (fresh or frozen), I’ve used that before as well and it works beautifully.
- Tomatoes – I prefer to use cherry tomatoes that have been sliced in half for this dish, but you are also welcome to make good use of those large heirlooms in your garden and dice them instead.
- Persian cucumbers – I prefer these cucumbers because they are small and thin-skinned, making it easy to simply slice them and toss them in as-is. The closest option to Persian cucumbers is English cucumbers which are much larger and longer, but also provide a thin skin that doesn’t need to be peeled.
- Fresh herbs – Fresh basil and mint are always present in my summer garden so I include them both. If you’d like to switch it up, I think fresh dill, chives, or oregano would all be lovely in this salad as well.
- Feta cheese – I always purchase block-style feta and prefer feta that is stored in its brine for the best flavor and texture possible. I prefer to dice my feta, but you can also crumble it if you prefer.
- Lemon – I use both the juice and the zest of lemon to help brighten and enhance the depth of flavors in this dish — it also helps to keep the nectarines from browning, keeping your dish looking fresh too!
- Olive oil – A good olive oil adds tremendous flavor to the dish and helps keep the couscous easily scoopable and not sticky.
- Salt & Pepper – I like to taste this dish before I add the salt and pepper because it’s super well balanced even without it. A small crack of black pepper and sprinkle of Kosher salt at the end is at most all you’ll need.
What should I serve this chilled summer salad with?
This Couscous Summer Salad is a great chilled dish to serve with just about anything you’re grilling! It’s a great way to dress up a meal of grilled chicken breasts, steak, fish, or as a side for burgers. I particularly love serving this salad as a side dish with these recipes:
- Greek Lamb Meatballs with Tzatziki Sauce
- Crab Club Sandwich
- Mediterranean Turkey Burgers
- Grilled Skirt Steak with Avocado Chimichurri Sauce
- Grilled Chicken Wings with Carolina Gold Mustard BBQ Sauce
- Grilled Chicken Wings with Chipotle Peach BBQ Sauce
- Crispy Oven-Fried Fish
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- A medium saucepan with a lid
- A cutting board
- A chef’s knife
- A large bowl
- A kitchen scale — OR — measuring cups (for less accurate measurements)
- Measuring spoons
- A citrus juicer
- A citrus zester
- Two wooden serving spoons or salad serving utensils
Are you looking to upgrade to your cooking tools or replenish your pantry? Check out my kitchen tools shop page and pantry staples shop page to find my must-have kitchen tools, pantry items, and other Whip & Wander favorites.
LOOKING FOR MORE SUMMER SIDE DISH INSPIRATION?
Love this Couscous Summer Salad? Here are some additional summer side dish recipes I love:
- Strawberry Peach Summer Salad with Basil Walnut Pesto
- Chili Lime Watermelon with Labneh and Honey
- Crunchy Greek Salad with Avocado and Feta
- Creamy Dijon Dill Potato Salad
- Creamy Cucumber Radish Salad
- Spicy Cabbage Slaw
- Horseradish Dill Slaw
This Couscous Summer Salad starts with a base of tender pearl couscous then gets tossed with the very best of summer produce, including sweet nectarines, lightly charred sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, crunchy Persian cucumbers, and a sprinkle of fresh basil and mint. Salty feta cheese and bright lemon help round out this cool summer salad and give it depth, making it a fantastic side dish for all your warm-weather grilling.
- 165 g (about 1 cup) pearl couscous, dry
- 12 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium (about 256 g) nectarines, pitted and diced (may sub for peaches)
- 215 g (about 1 1/2 cups) frozen fire-roasted sweet corn, defrosted – OR – about 2 large ears of corn, grilled and cut from the cob (may sub for traditional frozen sweet corn)
- 252 g (about 1 1/3 cups) cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 229 g (about 1 1/2 cups or 3 small) Persian cucumbers, sliced
- 8 oz block feta cheese, discarded of brine and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
- 13 g (about 1/4 cup packed) fresh basil, chiffonade or torn
- 8 g (about 2 tbsp packed) fresh mint, chopped or torn
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Add water to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the couscous, then cover the pan and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for about 7-8 minutes or until the water has absorbed and the couscous is al dente. Reserve to the side to cool.
- Once the couscous is cooled, add the olive oil and toss gently to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl add the couscous, nectarines, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, basil, mint, lemon juice, and lemon zest and toss gently to combine.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. I prefer just a small pinch of each as the salad is well balanced on its own. Serve immediately or store in the fridge prior to serving if you prefer it extra chilled. Leftovers should be refrigerated.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1/8th of recipe
- Calories: 213
- Sugar: 7 g
- Sodium: 372 mg
- Fat: 8 g
- Saturated Fat: 3 g
- Carbohydrates: 27 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 14 g
- Cholesterol: 15 g
Keywords: couscous, feta cheese, persian cucumber, nectarines