Couscous Tabbouleh

Couscous Tabbouleh - A simple tabbouleh recipe made with couscous and lots of fresh veggies and herbs. Light and fresh and perfect for a healthy lunch!


Couscous Tabbouleh

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The name of this recipe happens to contain two words that I have to look up every single time I want to spell them. I can never remember if couscous is one word or two (one) and tabbouleh is just an impossibility for me to remember.

Luckily, Google knows me well so when I type in “Tabbuollehhh” it tells me what I need to know in only a mild condescending fashion. (“Did you mean tabbouleh you moron?”)

If you are a dedicated Macheesmo reader, you might notice that I cheated a bit for this recipe. Quinoa tabbouleh actually won the poll last week, but the grocery store was fresh out of quinoa this last weekend.  Apparently, Memorial Day was also celebration of quinoa day or something.

Anyway, couscous works just as well. If you want to do quinoa (an equally weird word to spell), just find all instances of couscous in this Couscous Tabbouleh recipe and replace them with quinoa. Done deal.

Couscous Tabbouleh

Serves 4-6
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A simple tabbouleh recipe made with couscous and lots of fresh veggies and herbs. Light and fresh and perfect for a healthy lunch!

Recipe roughly adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe.


2 cups couscous, cooked according to package
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
2/3 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup fresh mint, minced
3-4 scallions, chopped
Salt and pepper
Pita bread, for serving


1) Cook couscous according to package. Normally this involves bringing 1 cup of water per cup of uncooked couscous to a simmer in a pot along with a tablespoon of butter and a pinch of salt. Once boiling, stir in couscous, turn off the heat, and let sit, covered for about 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork.

2) Add lemon juice to a bowl and mash in garlic. Then whisk in olive oil to form a dressing.

3) Add two-three tablespoons of dressing to finished couscous and toss to combine.

4) Peel and seed cucumber and dice. Quarter the tomatoes and dice the scallions. Add to couscous.

5) Mince parsley and mint and stir into couscous. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over the mix and season the whole salad with salt and pepper.

6) Either serve as a side dish or with pita bread.

Couscous Tabbouleh

Couscous or whatever

Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with wheat bulgur, but you can use a ton of different grains or pastas to get a similarly delicious result.

This time around I used couscous, but I’ve made this stuff with wheat berries, quinoa, and even rice pilaf.

Couscous actually has a very similar look and texture as the traditional bulgur so it works really well.

couscous for Couscous Tabbouleh
Tiny little things.

Couscous is about as easy as cooking gets. You should always check the cooking instructions for your specific kind as it might vary slightly, but basically you just add one cup of water per cup of dried couscous to a pot and bring it to a simmer.

Toss in a small nob of butter (a tablespoon maybe) and a pinch of salt. Once the water is simmering, stir in your couscous, cover the pot, and turn off the heat.

Five minutes later, you’ll have this light and fluffy couscous which you can use for all kinds of stuff.

fluffed - Couscous Tabbouleh
Nice and light.

The Dressing

This salad has a very simple dressing for it.  It really only has three ingredients (garlic, olive oil, lemon) but it might be the most important part of the tabbouleh.

It’s easy to make. Mash up a clove of garlic in a bowl with a fork and then add your lemon juice.

Whisk in the olive oil to combine the dressing and you should end up with this nice, bright yellow dressing that will be pretty acidic and delicious.

You might not want (or need) all of the dressing so just pour it in a bowl and reserve it for later.

dressing for Couscous Tabbouleh
Lemon is always good.

The Freshness

In my opinion, there are only two requirements to a good tabbouleh.  First, a few fresh veggies like tomatoes or cucumbers.

Second, a metric ton of fresh herbs, most importantly parsley, but mint also helps.

fresh veggies for Couscous Tabbouleh
Lots of herbs.

Just seed and peel the cucumber and then dice it up. Quarter the grape tomatoes and mince the scallions and herbs.

Then toss everything together.

Add the dressing in small batches. I ended up using all of mine, but you might want to use less. Remember that it’s always easier to add more later.

Season the tabbouleh with salt and pepper and you’re all set!

Couscous Tabbouleh salad
All mixed up.

You could serve this Couscous Tabbouleh as a side to any number of dishes (baked falafel maybe) or it can be a meal by itself.

Served with a warm pita bread, it makes a fantastic light lunch.

Couscous Tabbouleh recipe
With a pita makes a meal.

This Couscous Tabbouleh salad works great in the summer. This plus some lemonade and a little something sweet would make for a really good picnic.

It’s not heavy at all and has lots of bright, fresh summer flavors.

It takes under twenty minutes to toss together and it’s a well-spent twenty minutes.

5 Responses to “Couscous Tabbouleh” Leave a comment

  1. Ugh I’m so sick of quinoa either being sold out or insanely expensive lately. I don’t understand how a pound of quinoa can cost 12 bucks. that bob guy is a jerk

  2. I love this recipe! I had no idea the dressing was that easy to make. Dan: bulk bins at Henry’s or Whole Foods are a good option for less expensive quinoa, and though I was surprised to find it, Costco actually carries a large bag of organic quinoa that is very affordable. Bob’s Red Mill products are always more expensive then their bulk counterparts (maybe because of the dedicated facilities and overhead costs to be certified gluten-free?)

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