Couscous Salad with Lemon and Olives

Lemon Olive Couscous bannerI actually first learned how to make this salad ten years ago when I first came to Santorini. I remember having it in a restaurant overlooking the water and just thinking that this one simple dish represented everything about about the place I was visiting and I’d always associate this salad with this one place in time. I have been making this salad ever since and it always evokes that same place and time in my memory.

Santorini now has become less affordable since the last time I was here. Eating at fancy restaurants every night just isn’t in my budget. Thankfully a quick trip to the grocery store and a hostel kitchen fixed that problem for me. Not to mention this salad is as amazing as any you’ll eat in any restaurant and it’s one I learned to make here. All the ingredients are likely things you’ll already have in your pantry, and in Santorini every part of this salad is a household staple. Not to mention it’s extremely affordable and you can pack it into a container and take it to go on a picnic or anywhere you find yourself a bit peckish

Couscous Salad with Lemon and Olives

4 servings


  • 250g (1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous)
  • 315ml (1 1/4 cups) water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 handful or roughly 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
  • 3 Tbsp lightly packed fresh mint
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 135g (1 cup) Kalamata Olives (or any olives you like), pitted, then chopped
  • 50g (1/4 cup) dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 3 Tbsp chopped roasted pistachios
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest, from approximately 1 lemon

Lemon Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced shallots
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 125ml (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey (if not vegan) agave or maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. In a saucepan toast the couscous over medium heat and cook until slightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add the water, salt and bring to boil. Turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, leave uncovered and prepare the rest of the salad
  2. Place the chickpeas, cilantro, mint, scallions, olives, apricots, zucchini, pistachios and lemon zest in a large bowl.
  3. To make the dressing, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add shallots and cook until softened and golden. Stir in the coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and cayenne. Fry quickly then remove from heat. Cool for a minute then stir in the lemon juice, sweetener, and salt and whisk until smooth. Add the couscous to the chickpeas and pour the dressing over it. Stir well to coat everything with the dressing. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving

Lemon Olive Couscous


Lemon Olive Couscous Pinterest

2 thoughts on “Couscous Salad with Lemon and Olives

  1. Olivia Flying High says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Thank you for sharing this recipe and the story behind it.
    Santorini is SO beautiful. I’ve been there for 20 hours in 2012 and wanna go back ever since.


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