Next time you have an itch to make pasta salad, try our Moroccan couscous pasta salad instead—you won’t be disappointed! We used pearl couscous and combined it with pine nuts and warm seasonings to create a wholehearted side dish with lots of flavor.
The test kitchen response to this recipe was overwhelmingly positive. Our taste testers loved the texture and the seasonings, and we received feedback that this dish would be great with baked chicken or as a backyard barbecue or potluck side dish. Someone even suggested using the leftovers on a bed of fresh greens to make a salad feel like a full meal.
We were thrilled to make this recipe without mayo—which many pasta salads tend to require. If you have small pasta already in your pantry, it will suit just fine in this recipe. Otherwise, you can find pearl couscous near the rice or pasta at the supermarket.
Moroccan Couscous Pasta Salad Recipe
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 cups couscous, pearl, sometimes called Israeli couscous
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1/2 cup carrot, finely, chopped
- 1/2 cup petite peas, frozen, defrosted
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients for the dressing then set aside. Place a large saucepan or skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add oil and diced onion then cook until onion is browned and well-caramelized.
- Add pearl couscous and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 8–9 minutes, stirring occasionally until water is absorbed and pasta is tender. Remove from heat then set aside to cool until room temperature or slightly warm.
- Transfer couscous to a large bowl and add dressing. Stir to break up couscous and coat the ingredients with dressing then add carrot, peas, bell peppers, pine nuts and parsley. Stir to combine then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
Warm spices like cumin, ginger and cinnamon create a unique flavor in our Moroccan couscous pasta salad recipe!