Served warm or at room temperature, this Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad is light, fresh and delicious. It comes together in right around 30 minutes!
When our immediate family gets together, it’s quite a brood. With six adults and six children (10 years and under), there’s never a dull moment. In fact, if you look up the word pandemonium, you might just see a picture of us. But we love being together and all look forward to the times we can simply “hangout” together.
In the summertime, we love to gather at our daughter, Cait’s lake house, just slightly over an hour from our home in Raleigh. We spend time walking, talking, playing games, biking, boating, kayaking, and swimming. Oh, and lots of eating! All that activity creates hearty appetites and mealtimes are highlights of the day. Cait, Lindsay (our daughter-in-law) and I all enjoy cooking, so we take turns planning and preparing meals.
If the weather cooperates, we all love to eat lunch on the dock, near the water. Lunches are usually fresh and light; some kind of salad or fun sandwich. I came up with this Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad for a lunch last weekend when we were together at the lake. It was quickly gobbled up, and I’ve made it several times since, tweaking it just a bit each time.
I love that this salad comes together quickly. The Lemon Dill Dressing can be made ahead or thrown together in minutes, just before serving. While the couscous cooks, the salmon is drizzled with a bit of dressing and popped in the oven.
I’ve used both watercress and baby arugula for the salad and they are equally delicious.
Easy way to flake salmon.
When the salmon is finished, it’s easy to flake with two forks.
Then it’s just a matter of putting everything together in a large bowl or on a serving platter. I like to serve it with a loaf of warm French bread or pitas, and let everyone help themselves.
Israeli couscous gives the salad heartiness, though there’s not enough of it per portion to add a lot of calories.
What is Israeli couscous?
Israeli couscous is also called ptitim and pearl pasta. It has small, round, pasta-like granules (about the size of small pearls) and is made from semolina and wheat flour. In contrast to most pasta, it’s toasted, rather than dried, after being formed, which gives it a nuttier flavor and a slightly chewy bite. Israeli couscous can be used in salads, soups and as a side for roasted or grilled entrees.
What’s the different between regular couscous and Israeli couscous?
When a recipe calls for couscous or Israeli couscous, it’s important to use the right variety. These two products are very different, even though they both are called “couscous” and are both made from semolina flour. Traditional couscous is much smaller than the Israeli variety and is, made by rubbing semolina between wet hands until teeny-tiny balls are formed (I bet there’s a machine that does it now days!). It’s then then dried and steamed.
Israeli couscous is made by mixing semolina flour with water, into a dough. The dough is then machine extruded through a round mold, about 1 millimetre in size. These tiny pearls are then toasted dry, which adds a nutty flavor and a chewier texture. It has a much sturdier composition than traditional couscous ,allowing it to stand up to sauces.
Dress it up or down…
This Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad is wonderful eaten off paper plates for an informal picnic lunch, but would also make a lovely, healthy meal for a dinner party. Serve it in pretty, shallow bowls and pair the delicious whole-meal salad with a loaf of warm, crusty bread. I guarantee where ever or when ever you serve it, there’ll be lots of happy campers around the table!
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ⅓ cups uncooked Israeli couscous
- 4 6- ounce skinless salmon fillets
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 ounces watercress or baby arugula about 6 cups
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes halved or quartered, if larger
- 1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- 1 recipe Lemon Dill Dressing
- Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil for easy cleanup.
- In a medium size pot, bring chicken broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add the couscous and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until couscous is just tender, 8-10 minutes.
- Drain the couscous in a sieve. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to prevent clumping. Set aside.
- While couscous is cooking, prepare salmon. Place salmon fillets on prepared pan spaced 1-inch apart. Season both sides lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the Lemon Dill Dressing on each fillet. Spread with the back of a spoon to coat the top surfaces.
- Bake for 5 minutes, then switch oven to broil. With pan about 8 inches from the broiler element, broil for 5-6 minutes or until salmon is slightly firm to the touch and beginning to turn golden. Remove from oven and let sit for 2 minutes.
- Flake salmon into large chunks with two forks (see tutorial above). Drizzle flaked salmon with 1-2 tablespoons of the Lemon Dill Dressing and toss gently to coat.
- To assemble salad, combine watercress (or arugula) and Israeli couscous in a large bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the Lemon Dill Dressing.Turn out couscous mixture onto a large serving platter or individual plates. Top with flaked salmon, tomatoes and Feta cheese. Garnish with fresh dill. Serve extra dressing at the table.
Nutritional information below does not include calories for the dressing. See the Lemon Dill Dressing post for that information.