Warm Couscous Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette

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 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

Print Recipe
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.
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  • 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?

    • Jenn

      Yes, quinoa would be great!

  • Jean

    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.

    • Jenn

      Hi Jean, Thank you! I think this dish would be fabulous with quinoa.

  • MickMil

    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-

  • 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

  • It tasted amazing!!! Thanks you so much. And the apricot jam is my new favorite jam. :)

    • Jenn

      Hi Genevieve, Thanks for being the first to review. So glad you liked it!

  • Mitzi

    Can I use Israeli Couscous with this recipe? It looks great!

    • Jenn

      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!

  • Danita

    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.

    • Jenn

      I hope so, Danita! Thank you :)

  • Liesel

    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?

    • Jenn

      Hi Liesel, Yes because the couscous will absorb some of the vinaigrette.

  • 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.

  • Patricia Brady

    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.

  • Kathy L. Wells

    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.

  • Abby

    Love this, ate it with your Moroccan grilled chicken — winning combination!

  • Michelle

    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!

  • Jenni

    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.

  • Michelle

    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!

  • 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.

  • Pilar Keyes

    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.

  • What a wonderful interpretation of Moroccan food … This couscous salad sounds incredibly intriguing. I can’t wait to try it!

  • Carole

    Lundberg makes a brown rice based couscous that is fabulous

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