Israeli Couscous Salad with Yellow Squash & Sun-Dried Tomatoes ♥

Israeli Couscous Salad with Yellow Squash & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Today's latest summer salad recipe: Take sexy Israeli couscous and match it up with pretty yellow squash. What do you get? Summer in a bowl. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

Aiii, culinary nomenclature can be so confusing.

First there's couscous, which we tend to think of as a natural whole grain and cook and serve like a grain, but is really just another form of dried pasta. But did anyone else love the word 'couscous' as a kid? I did. "Koos-koos, koos-koos, koos-koos" I'd try to say three times, failing except for the real point, which was to laugh out loud, that was a success.

And then there's Israeli couscous. It's still another form of pasta, toasted instead of dried, and shaped in perfect tiny pearls somehow way sexier than other itty-bitty pastas and their cousin, regular couscous. But Israeli couscous is as much a 'food product' as couscous, it's not a natural whole grain either, albeit one born of necessity and innovation. After the formation of Israel, both food and foreign currency were scarce so it was prudent to create a home-grown food source to substitute for rice.

So I love the word 'couscous' and the history of Israeli couscous – and truth be told, I love this salad too, it tasted so garlicky and summery and was oh-so-pretty to behold.

I used a Trader Joe's mix called 'Harvest Grains Blend'. (You see how the word 'grain' keeps showing up in the couscous neighborhood?) It's a mix of Israeli "style" couscous (hmm, what does 'style' mean in this context?), red and green bullets of orzo (the tiny Italian pasta), baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa. I like the mix alot, except that the garbanzo beans took way more time and way more water to cook than the rest of the blend.

But don't stress over finding the Trader Joe's blend, or even Israeli couscous. Any tiny pasta will do, American, Italian, Israeli, Martian or otherwise.

For that matter, don't stress over the summer squash either – think peas or green beans or sweet corn or olive as substitutes. I have a great source of relatively inexpensive no-oil sun-dried tomatoes (for St. Louisans, that's Dierbergs) but wouldn't hesitate to use cherry tomatoes (halved, to get the juices out, maybe with tiny balls of fresh mozzarella?) or chopped summer tomatoes.

Let the ingredient list be as stretch-y and as pleasure-inducing as, you know, koos-koos.

"I used this recipe as an "inspiration" for a dish of my own: ... The verdict: DELICIOUS! " ~ Molly


Hands-on time: 15 minutes over 30 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes 5 cups

1-1/4 cups Israeli couscous or a tiny pasta such as orzo, even broken bits of spaghetti
Water or other cooking liquid

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 - 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 pound yellow squash, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, then cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound zucchini, ditto

Cooked couscous
Cooked summer squash
1/2 ounce sun-dried tomatoes, cut into slivers
Salt & pepper to taste

PASTA Cook until al dente according to package instructions. If needed, drain.

SUMMER SQUASH In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmery. Add the shallot and garlic, stir to coat with fat and let cook until just soft. Add the yellow squash and zucchini as they're prepped, stir to coat with fat. Let cook until barely done, you don't want them mushy.

COMBINE Toss the still-hot couscous with the cooked squash and sun-dried tomatoes. Season to taste. Let cool, refrigerate until ready to serve.

I'd intended to add fresh basil just before serving but in the end, decided against it, thinking it would detract from a lovely garlicky couscous studded with pieces of summer squash.

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This recipe is so quick and easy that I'm adding it to a growing collection of easy summer recipes published all summer long at Kitchen Parade, my food column. With a free Kitchen Parade e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!

~ Summer Orzo with Radicchio ~
~ Spicy Thai Noodle Salad ~
~ more vegetables with pasta recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Greek Pasta Salad ~
~ BLT Pasta Salad ~
~ more salad recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

~ Israeli Couscous with Grilled Summer Vegetables ~
from Cookin' Canuck
~ Fresh Corn Couscous with Pine Nuts & Cilantro ~
from Ms Glaze
~ Mediterranean Salad with Israeli Couscous ~
from Choosy Beggars

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2010
Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I don't think I had heard of the word (or the food) couscous as a kid ;)

    Looks like a lovely summery dish. I borrowed a food dehydrator and made my first "sun-dried" tomatoes a couple of weeks ago, but I have yet to try them.

  2. Love the textures and tastes in this recipe...also love how flexible you are with your ingredients, so as not to overwhelm folks trying it out...beautiful colors too! I too have tried that blend from Trader Joe' is a big bunch of health in a bag!

  3. I used this recipe as an "inspiration" for a dish of my own: I prepared Israeli couscous to package directions, then added the following to it while still hot: reheated leftover grilled veggies (bell peppers, squash, red onion), julienned sun-dried tomatoes, sliced black olives, ~2 TBS crumbled feta cheese.

    I also made a light vinaigrette and poured it on top: a few splashes of red wine vinegar, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a dab of dijon mustard, a dab of crushed garlic, S&P (quite a bit of salt, it turned out).

    The verdict: DELICIOUS! Thanks for the inspiration to use up a bunch of things I had sitting around! I love your site and reference it almost daily!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna