Israeli Couscous & Summer Squash Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

If you haven’t tried Israeli couscous you need to sit up, run to grocery store, and get yourself some of this delicious, delicate, little pillow of grainy goodness. Seriously. I’ve been eating regular couscous forever but about a year ago I stumbled upon this variety while eating out & I was hooked.

Here, I wanted to make a salad that was summer in the mouth. I choose local summer squash and cucumbers because they are in peak season here in Georgia. I added green grapes because they remind me of summer. Growing up in Florida, we used to eat them by the handfuls at the beach. Lastly, I chose a basil pesto vinaigrette because I have loads of basil in the garden right now (and it’s my favorite herb). This is the type of salad you can easily mix up with vegetables, fruits, and herbs you love. Or, what you happen to have on hand!

If you have a Trader Joe’s in your area, they have a Harvest Grain 16 oz. pkg of Israeli couscous mixed with red quinoa, baby garbanzos, and orzo. That’s what I used in this recipe & I really love the color & texture combination. Otherwise, any Israeli couscous you can find is perfect. Sometimes I have trouble finding it at large grocers so you may have to hit up the health food store in your area. I added fresh Parmesan to the dressing because I had a bunch on hand – it’s a nice compliment to the basil but if you prefer a vegan meal just skip the Parmesan. This makes a large salad so it is perfect for get-togethers/family picnics or to make on Sunday and have for lunch on the go during the week.

  • One large (16 oz.) pkg of Israeli couscous, prepared & cooled
  • 3-4 summer squash, sliced lengthwise in halve twice & chopped into quarter pieces.
  • 3-4 baby cucumbers, sliced like the squash
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 cup green grapes, sliced in halve (red will do too!)
  • ~ 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2-4 cloves garlic (depending on your garlic lover level)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup freshly shaved/grated Parmesan (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • S/P
  1. Prepare the couscous according to the package instructions (usually just simmer for about 10 minutes – a lot like rice). Let cool and begin chopping all your vegetables into bite-size pieces. Slice your grapes in halves. When the couscous is completely cooled place in a large bowl & mix in all your vegetables & the grapes.
  2. In a small food processor (or blender) prepare your vinaigrette. Combine your basil leaves, garlic, lemon juice, and a few tbsp. olive oil. Grind a few twists of salt/pepper to season. Process until the basil & garlic is almost smooth, adding olive oil as needed. If you want Parmesan, add this to the processor and mix just until combined.
  3. Pour the dressing onto the salad and mix well. Serve cold on its own or over a bed of greens.

Serves: 6-8

Recipe source: Original

Time: 25 minutes

Wine suggestion: chilled Riesling

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3 thoughts on “Israeli Couscous & Summer Squash Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

  1. marla {Family Fresh Cooking} July 21, 2010 / 10:14 AM

    We love Israeli couscous and have had that TJ’s mix. Great additions with the fresh veggies and fresh basil. This is great for entertaining!

  2. Natalie (The Sweets Life) July 21, 2010 / 12:13 PM

    I’ve never tried Israeli couscous but I’ve been meaning to. Love the combination in this salad—great summer meal!

  3. Free recipes August 12, 2010 / 9:56 PM

    What a stunning salad! I find your blog to be such a joy to see and read. Thank you for sharing another fresh and healthy recipe!

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