This easy vegan Israeli couscous salad recipe stars savory roasted vegetables in a zesty avocado-lime dressing.
Dave and I have been eating out more than usual lately, and we've had some really great grain salads.
It got me thinking about how I used to make grain salads all the time. Why did I ever stop? They're so easy to toss together, and they make great leftovers for lunch the next day.
Consider this recipe me getting back on the grain salad train! Toot toot!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Israeli couscous is a small, pearl-shaped pasta. The cooking -- like with any pasta -- is very hands-off. That means you can prep the rest of the salad ingredients while the pasta boils.
- Carrots and broccoli are the roasted veggies for this salad. Feel free to mix things up with other vegetables, if you prefer. Just make sure you use around three to four cups total. Brussels sprouts, summer squash, parsnips, and radishes all work well in this recipe. Roasting time will vary by vegetable.
- Avocado is the base for the creamy dressing.
- Lime juice brings acidity to the dressing. If you don't have lemon juice, you can use lemon juice or rice vinegar instead.
- Ground cumin and garlic boost the flavor of this dressing. You can omit or reduce the amount of garlic, if you like. The cumin gives this salad a really lovely, earthy flavor. You can also add other seasonings, like ½ teaspoon of ground coriander or a teaspoon of chili powder and/or paprika, if you want.
- Massaged kale brings some more greens to this salad. If kale isn't your thing, feel free to omit or replace with chopped, fresh spinach. Do not massage the spinach.
- White beans add a dash of protein, really pushing this salad into meal territory. You can use chickpeas instead or omit the beans altogether.
- Red onion adds a little crunch and umami flavor. Green onions will work instead, if you prefer.
How to make Israeli couscous salad
Start this recipe by getting your vegetables roasting. They take about 20 minutes total. You'll roast the carrots first, then add the broccoli for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time.
While the veggies roast, get your Israeli couscous boiling on the stovetop, make the dressing, and massage the kale.
To cook the Israeli couscous, boil 3 cups of water, add a cup of Israeli couscous, and boil until it's tender. This takes about 10 minutes. Test it for doneness frequently starting at 10 minutes, as it is easy to overcook this very small pasta.
When the Israeli couscous finishes cooking, drain and rinse it, just like you would any other pasta.
For the dressing, just toss avocado, olive oil, lime juice, water, cumin, and garlic into your blender or food processor. Puree until smooth, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Now that the dressing is ready, you can massage that kale! Use a few tablespoons of the dressing and get in there with clean hands. Massage the kale until it turns bright green.
By now, the veggies and pasta should be ready, and it's time to assemble! Combine the Israeli couscous, roasted vegetables, and kale in a large bowl. Add a drained can of white beans and some minced red onion.
Top it off with the avocado dressing, and toss it all together.
You can serve this Israeli couscous salad warm or cold! I like it warm for dinner and cold for lunch the next day.
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for two to three days. This is a great meal prep recipe!
I do not recommend freezing this salad. The texture changes when it thaws, and it's not ideal.
More dressing ideas for Israeli couscous
If you want to mix up your dressings, go for it! These are all delicious on this Israeli couscous salad.
Vegan Israeli Couscous Salad Recipe
For the roasted vegetables
- 2 teaspoons olive oil - divided
- 2 carrots - sliced into ½" coins
- 1 ½ cups broccoli florets - about 1 small head of broccoli
For the Israeli couscous
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
For the avocado dressing
- 1 Haas avocado
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cloves garlic
For the kale
- 1 cup stemmed and chopped kale
For the salad
- 1 15-ounce can of white beans - drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup minced red onion
Roast the vegetables
- Preheat the oven to 425° F.
- Toss the carrots in 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread them onto half of a lined sheet pan, and bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the broccoli in the other teaspoon of olive oil.
- Remove the pan from the oven, flip the carrots over, and add the broccoli to the other half of the same sheet pan. Bake the carrots and broccoli together for 10-15 minutes, until the broccoli starts to get crispy and the carrots start to brown. If one finishes before the other, just remove it from the sheet pan and let the other veggie finish roasting.
Make the Israeli couscous
- In a saucepan, bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the Israeli couscous, reduce the heat, and simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes, until it’s tender. Drain and rinse, like you would any other pasta.
Make the avocado dressing
- Combine all of the dressing ingredients in your blender or food processor. Puree until you have a nice, smooth dressing. Add salt and black pepper, to taste.
Massage the kale
- In a small bowl, spoon 2 tablespoons of the avocado dressing onto the kale. Massage with clean hands until the kale softens.
Assemble the salad
- Add the roasted vegetables and massaged kale to the bowl with the Israeli couscous, white beans, and onions. Pour on the remaining avocado dressing, and toss well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve warm or cold.
Frequently asked questions
Israeli couscous is different from more common, Moroccan couscous. Israeli couscous is a small, pearl-shaped pasta and has that nice, chewy consistency and neutral flavor of pasta. It's larger in size than Moroccan couscous.
It's a lovely alternative to rice or quinoa in a grain salad, if you're looking to mix up your textures a bit.
Pearl couscous and Israeli couscous are just different names for the same thing: a small, pearl-shaped pasta.
Chances are, you overcooked it. Israeli couscous is just a type of pasta, so as soon as it's al dente, drain and rinse like you would any other pasta. It is easy to overcook, because of its tiny size, so check it frequently for doneness, starting at the 10-minute mark.
It is! Like most pastas, Israeli couscous is naturally vegan. If you're dining out, you do want to check what else is in the restaurant's Israeli couscous recipe. Sometimes it's cooked in chicken stock, for example, or served with feta cheese.