Served warm or at room temperature, this Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad is light, fresh and delicious. It comes together in right around 40 minutes!
This light, healthy Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad is one of our favorite summer meals. It's so... delicious, makes a beautiful presentation and always brings rave reviews!
During the warm summer months, I love meals that come together quickly, don't require a ton of ingredients and are not a lot of fuss. This Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad checks all the boxes!
The Lemon Dill Dressing is one of our favorites and in addition to this Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad, it's delicious on just about any green salad. I love that it can be made ahead or thrown together in minutes, just before serving.
Baking and flaking
The salmon for this recipe is drizzled with a bit of the delicious dressing then popped in a hot oven and baked just until done, but still moist and tender, just 6-10 minutes It's best to use an instant thermometer to determine when your salmon is done as it all depends on the thickness of the fillets.
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 basket of warm, crusty dinner rolls (or homemade naan) and let everyone help themselves.
What is Israeli couscous?
This salad calls for Israeli couscous. Israeli couscous is also called ptitim or 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. It gives the salad heartiness and makes it a complete meal, yet doesn't add a ton of calories per portion.
What's the difference 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 Traditional couscous is much smaller than the Israeli variety and was originally made by rubbing semolina between wet hands (I bet there's a machine that does it these days) until tiny balls are formed. It's 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 millimeter 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 and dressings, as in this Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad.
Dress it up or down...
This Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad is wonderful eaten off paper plates for an informal picnic lunch, but also makes a lovely, healthy meal for a dinner party. Serve it in pretty, shallow bowls garnished with lots of beautiful fresh dill and a sprinkle toasted pine nuts. I guarantee wherever, whenever or whoever you serve it to, there'll be lots of happy faces around the table!
Cafe Tips for making this Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad
- Israeli couscous is also called pearl pasta and is available in most larger grocery stores in the pasta sections. Some grocery stores will also stock it in the international aisle in the Mediterranean section and/or in the kosher section.
- If you can't find Israeli couscous, you could also use orzo pasta with delicious results.
- This would be a wonderful dish for a summer picnic. Prep ahead as directed below and assemble the salad just before serving.
- This salad can be easily prepped ahead.
- Make the dressing several days in advance.
- Cook the pasta up to a day ahead and refrigerate.
- Bake the salmon early in the day and refrigerate.
- Bring ingredients to room temperature or warm on low power in the microwave before serving.
- Dill pairs deliciously with salmon, but other fresh herbs would also be wonderful. Try fresh thyme, basil, oregano or a combination of herbs.
- Salmon fillets come in varying degrees of thickness, so the best way to determine when it's done is to use an instant thermometer. The internal temperature of salmon should be 125-135˚F, depending on how well done you like your salmon. Keep in mind that the temperature will rise a bit after being removed from the oven.
- I love to use varying shades of cherry and grape tomatoes in this recipe but you can keep it to one color if you prefer. Larger tomatoes will also work, just slice them into bite sizes pieces.
Served warm or at room temperature, this Israeli Couscous Salmon Salad is light, fresh and delicious. It comes together in right around 30 minutes!
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous
- 4 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 ounces watercress, baby arugula or baby spinach about 6 cups
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes halved or quartered, if larger
- ½ cup crumbled Feta cheese
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- Lemon Dill Dressing
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
In a medium size pot, bring chicken broth and ½ 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 stir with a fork 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 6-10 minutes, until salmon is slightly firm to the touch and the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 125-135°F . Remove from oven and let sit for 2 minutes (the temperature will come up a bit during this resting time).
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, arugula or baby spinach with the 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. Drizzle with a bit more dressing and sprinkle genersouly 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.