Warm Couscous Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette

4.5 stars based on 7 votes

warm-couscous-salad-apricot-vinaigrette

I love Moroccan food, especially the blending of savory and sweet, which is the idea behind this delicious salad. Made with couscous, scallions, fresh herbs, crunchy almonds and a tangy-sweet apricot vinaigrette, it’s the perfect side dish for summer. By that I mean it’s wonderfully light, takes mere minutes to make, travels well to a picnic or BBQ, and can be served warm or room temperature. I recommend serving it with my Grilled Moroccan Chicken but it would be good with just about any chicken, pork or lamb dish.

ingredinets

Before we get to the recipe, a few words about couscous. Most people think of it as a grain, but it’s actually a form of pasta made from semolina flour. A staple throughout the Mediterranean and North Africa, it’s traditionally prepared in a double-chambered steaming vessel known as a couscoussiére. The base pot holds a meat or vegetable stew and a steamer on top holds the couscous, which slowly steams and absorbs the flavors from the stew. But for this recipe, you need not worry about all that — it calls for instant couscous, which cooks in just five minutes in a regular pot.

To start, bring the cooking liquid to a boil in a medium pot. Since couscous can be bland if not seasoned properly, I like to cook it in a flavorful chicken or vegetable broth instead of water. A pad of butter and a little salt help too.

cooking-liquid

Next, add the couscous, turn off the heat and cover the pot.

adding-couscous

After five minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork. If you let it sit, it will clump together.

fluffing-couscous

Meanwhile, make the dressing by combining the olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and apricot jam in a small bowl.

making-vinaigrette

Pour the vinaigrette over the warm couscous.

adding-vinaigrette

Chop the scallions and herbs.

mint-and-scallions

Then toss them with couscous along with the sliced almonds.

stirring-in-herbs-scallions-and-nuts

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.

ready-to-eat

This recipe was adapted and modified from Real Simple magazine.

Warm Couscous Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette

Servings: 4-6
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (best quality such as Swanson)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • 1 10-ounce box couscous (1-1/2 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons apricot preserves (best quality such as Bonne Maman)
  • 4-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or mint (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Bring the chicken broth, butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium pot. Add the couscous and stir. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and remove from the heat. Let sit 5 minutes, then fluff the couscous immediately with a fork so it doesn't clump together.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the apricot preserves, olive oil, white wine vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Add about three-quarters of the vinaigrette to the couscous and stir to combine. Taste and add the remaining vinaigrette, little by little, if necessary (you may not need it all). Be sure to add all the little chunks of apricot from the vinaigrette, as they tend to settle at the bottom of the bowl (just use a fork to fish them out). Stir in the scallions, herbs and sliced almonds. Taste and adjust seasoning (I usually add a good bit of salt) and serve warm or room temperature.

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 375
  • Fat: 15g
  • Saturated fat: 3g
  • Carbohydrates: 52g
  • Sugar: 9g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 9g
  • Sodium: 227mg
  • Cholesterol: 5mg

Reviews & Comments

  • Can this recipe work with freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of white wine vinegar?

    - Cristina on May 23, 2015 Reply
    • Sure, Cristina — that would be fine!

      - Jenn on May 23, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I am planning on using this for a luncheon. Is it best to make this day of or can it be made the day before? Add dressing if made the day before or wait until you are serving it? Am also using your lemon poundcake. It is wonderful. Thank you

    - Maria McCabe on April 19, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Maria, It’s fine to make it a day ahead and either reheat or bring to room temperature before serving. I would add the dressing right before serving. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on April 19, 2015 Reply
  • Re this couscous with apricot dressing, (which sounds delicious), would you recommend serving it with the Moroccan chicken recipe and with the carrot-walnut-cranberry slaw or would the two side dishes be too similar in flavour, with the fruity taste in each? Thanks..your recipes sound great!

    - Steve on April 13, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Steve, It pairs beautifully with the Moroccan chicken. If you wanted to serve the salad, I would probably do it as a first course instead of a side. You might also like my Moroccan Carrot Slaw.

      - Jenn on April 13, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Another winner, Jenn! I made this last night to serve with Moroccan chicken and the roasted carrots with curry. Wow…my husband is still talking about it. I’m a real foodie and have always used FoodNetwork and Epicurious as my inspiration, but for the last couple of months your website is the first place I go. I use your recipes at least 3 times a week. Made your tilapia the other night and it was delish and so easy. I’ll be trying the lemon pound cake for Easter to serve with your fabulous leek quiche.
    Happy Passover!

    - Linda on April 3, 2015 Reply
  • sounds delicious, could you substitute quinoa for the couscous? thank you

    - rita on April 1, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Rita, Yes that’d be fine.

      - Jenn on April 1, 2015 Reply
      • thanks for getting back so fast! can’t wait to try!

        - rita on April 1, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    What a wonderful salad. I grew to love couscous while living in Brazil for a couple years. However, I never had it as the above recipe. All I can say is I am a huge fan. The apricot vinaigrette puts this dish over the edge. I served this along side the Crispy Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks with Mango Chutney on Jenn’s site. The two together were amazing.

    For my tastes, the next time I make it I will probably put a little less olive oil in the vinaigrette due to the end product having an olive oil taste (or maybe I need to use better olive oil). But other than that I will definitely be making this one again.

    - Mike C. on March 21, 2015 Reply
  • 3 stars

    I didn’t love this recipe…but then again I didn’t have the mint on hand, so not sure if that made a huge difference. I suppose I wasn’t a huge fan of the dressing. The apricot jam tasted super sweet in the dressing to me.

    - Emily on March 19, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this on Friday along w/ the Thai Chicken Skewers – so delicious! followed the recipes *exactly* and everything was fantastic. i wouldn’t change a thing on either. (Used 100% of the marinade on the cous cous. I made the dish in advance and stirred in 3/4 of the marinade b/c I feared it would all absorb and leave the dish dry. Then when it was time to serve I added the remaining 1/4 of the marinade to freshen it up.)

    - Lindsay on August 4, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Another winner! Easy with big flavor pay off.

    - Julia on July 18, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is a simple, deceptively flavorful, couscous that goes well with so many dishes. My family loves it!

    - Dani on July 3, 2014 Reply
  • Lundberg makes a brown rice based couscous that is fabulous

    - Carole on April 3, 2014 Reply
  • What a wonderful interpretation of Moroccan food … This couscous salad sounds incredibly intriguing. I can’t wait to try it!

    - Josephine on April 3, 2014 Reply
  • I just made this salad and it is absolutely delicious! I used the mint and the chicken broth. I love everything about it, and look forward to having a wonderfully healthy lunches this week with my apricot couscous.

    - Pilar Keyes on March 23, 2014 Reply
  • I made this for a romantic dinner for my girlfriend, and she couldn’t get enough! She had multiple servings in one night. Needless to say, the salad didn’t last the weekend! It went really well with the filet mignon with gorgonzola sauce I made too.

    - Marina on February 22, 2014 Reply
  • I made this for Rosh Hashana this year, and it was a big hit! The apricot dressing gives it so much flavor. Highly recommend for a dinner party!

    - Michelle on November 8, 2013 Reply
  • This didn’t suite my palette entirely because I tend to favor salty over sweet but I thought the recipe itself was still delicious so I would really like to see another couscous related recipe with a different flavor.

    - Jenni on November 5, 2013 Reply
  • I made this for Rosh Hashana this year, and it was a big hit! The apricot dressing gives it so much flavor. Highly recommend for a dinner party!

    - Michelle on November 5, 2013 Reply
  • Love this, ate it with your Moroccan grilled chicken — winning combination!

    - Abby on October 22, 2013 Reply
  • I love this couscous recipe! I added some yellow raisins to it yesterday and loved the sweetness. When I have it for lunch, I always heat it up for 30 seconds in the microwave first.

    - Kathy L. Wells on July 31, 2013 Reply
  • My husband and I went on vacation with 3 other couples and I made this dish along with your Morrocan Chicken. What a hit! Made chicken salad with the left over chicken and it was GREAT!

    My friend said we should make the chicken salad for the fall fashion show we are planning, because it was so good.

    Thanks for the recipes…love them.

    - Patricia Brady on July 12, 2013 Reply
  • Ok, I just made this with quinoa and it is now gone. I ate it all myself. I discovered that it tastes better and has better consistency if you leave it sitting there for a while. Half hour should do it. I used water to cook the quinoa because I haven’t had good experiences with chicken or vegetable broth and quinoa. I forgot to add salt so that was a problem. Definitely add the mint. The mix of flavor between the onion and the mint is perfect.

    - Sophia on June 27, 2013 Reply
  • Hi, Jenn. The box of couscous I use (same brand as in your photo) calls for 2 cups of liquid for the 10 oz. box. Are you reducing the cooking liquid for the recipe?

    - Liesel on June 26, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Liesel, Yes because the couscous will absorb some of the vinaigrette.

      - Jenn on June 26, 2013 Reply
  • Jenn,
    I went to my local grocer a couple of days after this post to buy Bonne Maman apricot preserves. The shelves were fully stocked except the apricot which was half gone. I couldn’t help but think you must have a few followers in my neighborhood.

    - Danita on June 26, 2013 Reply
    • I hope so, Danita! Thank you :)

      - Jenn on June 28, 2013 Reply
  • Can I use Israeli Couscous with this recipe? It looks great!

    - Mitzi on June 24, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Mitzi, I suppose you could, but Israeli couscous definitely cooks differently so you should follow the package instructions instead of mine. The rest would be the same. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on June 24, 2013 Reply
  • It tasted amazing!!! Thanks you so much. And the apricot jam is my new favorite jam. :)

    - Genevieve on June 24, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Genevieve, Thanks for being the first to review. So glad you liked it!

      - Jenn on June 24, 2013 Reply
  • This is such a great combination of ingredients and flavors. Love it. I was thinking “chicken” as i read it. Glad to know that is what you recommend.

    Wishes for tasty dishes,
    Linda@Tumbleweed Contessa

    - Linda on June 20, 2013 Reply
  • Damn! Once again you pick one of my favorite foods and ramp it up to make it even better.

    How you know my taste so well, girl??

    I love how you present all your recipes.

    M-

    - MickMil on June 20, 2013 Reply
  • What grain, if any, would you suggest for a gluten-free version of this? (I have several relatives with celiac disease.)

    Thanks!
    PS: The curried roasted carrots are some of the best things I’ve ever eaten! I love your website.

    - Jean on June 20, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Jean, Thank you! I think this dish would be fabulous with quinoa.

      - Jenn on June 20, 2013 Reply
  • OMG this sounds so awesome. My kids love couscous so I might have to hide this recipe. (I avoid semolina for my gut health.) What do you think of making it with quinoa?

    - Sophia on June 20, 2013 Reply
    • Yes, quinoa would be great!

      - Jenn on June 20, 2013 Reply

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