30 Minutes or Less Make Ahead - Heat & Serve Recipes Side Dishes

Couscous Summer Salad

Israel couscous salad with tomato, arugula, mozzarella and peaches.
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Pasta salads are always an easy side dish. Kids love them and pasta is filling. The downside is they aren’t that healthy. Couscous summer salad is a great recipe to mix up your pasta salad game and introduce new texture and flavors.

While still being made of the same flour as most pasta, Israeli couscous comes in the shape of little pearls and it cooks in about the same time as most pastas, 8-10 minutes.

This couscous summer salad recipe has no heavy salad dressing but still manages to pack lots of flavor. Fresh ingredients like the grape tomatoes and arugula pair perfectly with the saltiness of the mozzarella cheese and sweetness of the peaches. Then the salad is lightly dressed with a little olive oil and white wine vinegar and it is ready to serve in under 20 minutes.

About the Ingredients

Israeli couscous salad with vinegar and oil dressing.

Israeli couscous – 1 cup, uncooked.

Marinated mozzarella balls – you can also use plain but the seasoning in the marinade is very flavorful so if you use plain I might add a pinch of Italian seasoning to the salad too.

Grape tomatoes – about 1 cup, slice in half.

Canned peaches – be sure to use the no sugar added peaches. The peaches in heavy syrup will add an overpowering sweetness that this salad doesn’t need. You can of course use fresh peaches too, I just find their season of perfect ripeness to be short and I need juicy flavorful fruit in my salad.

Baby arugula – 2 handfuls.

The Dressing –  equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar plus a little salt and pepper.

Israeli couscous salad ingredients

How to Make Couscous Summer Salad

Cook the couscous according to package directions, adding a little salt and olive oil. It basically gets boiled just like pasta except it will absorb all of the boiling water so be sure to check the package for instructions.

While couscous cooks, chop the peaches, tomatoes and mozzarella. 

Once the couscous is cooked, transfer it to a serving bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss.

Make Ahead Instructions

Couscous summer salad is easy enough to make but sometimes you need all the chopping and mixing done ahead of time. To make this salad in advance simply follow the recipe, including dressing the salad EXCEPT don’t add the arugula yet. The arugula will wilt from sitting in the dressing too long. So prepare the rest of the salad and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve it. Then mix in your arugula at the last minute and enjoy!

Recipe Substitutions & Variations

The ingredients of this couscous summer salad are easy to substitute. One variation I love to make is swapping out the tomatoes and arugula for bacon and torn fresh basil.

Because couscous is so similar to pasta you can easily make this salad with a more traditional pasta. I would stick to the smaller shapes because there isn’t much dressing so a larger noodle such as penne or bowtie pasta will be very dry. Instead use orzo or ditalini.

FAQ’s and Recipe Tips

Can I make couscous summer salad in advance?

Yes – prepare the salad completely, through dressing it. Cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours. After 6 hours, the salad will still be delicious but the arugula will start to wilt. If you’d like to make it a day in advance, simply leave out the arugula and toss it in just before serving.

What do I serve couscous summer salad with?

Serve your salad alongside a savory quiche or grilled protein such as marinated flank steak or bbq chicken. You could also add grilled chicken or shrimp and serve it as a main dish for lunch or a light dinner.

What is Israeli couscous?

Israeli couscous is little pearl shaped pasta. It’s actually made from the same flour as most of the regular pasta you enjoy. Like pasta it comes dry and once boiled becomes soft and fluffy.

Is Israeli couscous healthy?

Not any healthier than other pasta however it does contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that all benefit your health.

A bite of Israeli couscous salad.

The Recipe for Couscous Summer Salad

The recipe is attached below for easy downloading and printing.  If you test it out be sure to leave a note in the comments below. I’d love to hear what you thought and what you served it with. Enjoy!

Israel couscous salad with tomato, arugula, mozzarella and peaches.

Couscous Summer Salad

Similar to pasta salad with additional fresh ingredients and a light but very flavorful dressing.
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 cup Israeli couscous uncooked
  • 1 cup marinated mozzarella balls quartered
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • ½ can no sugar added sliced peaches roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls baby arugula
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper


  • Cook the couscous according to the package directions and adding the suggested olive oil and salt to the boiling water.
    1 cup Israeli couscous
  • While couscous cooks, chop the peaches, tomatoes and mozzarella. 
    1 cup marinated mozzarella balls, 1 cup grape tomatoes, ½ can no sugar added sliced peaches
  • Transfer cooked couscous to a serving bowl along with the peaches, tomatoes, mozzarella and arugula.
    2 handfuls baby arugula
  • Pour the olive oil and white wine vinegar over the top, season with salt and pepper to taste and to toss to combine.
    2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, salt & pepper


Make this salad up to 6 hours in advance. After 6 hours, the arugula may begin to wilt so if you’re prepping the salad further in advance leave off the dressing until ready to serve.
Keyword brunch, make ahead, pasta, salad, under 30 minutes

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  1. Can’t wait to try this easy delicious!! Will let you know after giving a try.

    1. ? can’t wait to hear!

  2. I cannot wait to try this recipe this summer! I always have a backyard full of company and I think this is going to be a big hit. So easy too!!

    1. Yes! This is one of those super simple recipes that people always say “I need this recipe!”

  3. This looks perfect for a potluck! I can totally see my kids grabbing for all the tomatoes ? yum!

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