Warm Couscous Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette

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A savory and sweet couscous salad with scallions, sliced almonds and a fruity apricot vinaigrette.

Large plate of warm couscous salad with 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.

What you’ll need to make the warm couscous salad
Salad ingredients including chicken broth, white wine vinegar, and couscous.
How to make couscous salad

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 couscoussière. The base pot holds a meat or vegetable stew and a steamer on top holds the grain, 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.

Butter melting into broth.

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

Couscous pouring into a pan of broth.

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

Fork fluffing couscous in a pan.

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

Oil pouring into a pan with apricot jam.

Pour the vinaigrette over the warm couscous.

Bowl pouring apricot vinaigrette onto couscous.

Chop the scallions and herbs.

Chopped mint and scallions on a wooden cutting board.

Then toss them with couscous along with the sliced almonds.

Chopped herbs and nuts over couscous.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.

Large plate of warm couscous salad with apricot vinaigrette.

This recipe was adapted and modified from Real Simple magazine.

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Warm Couscous Salad with Apricot Vinaigrette

A savory and sweet couscous salad with scallions, sliced almonds and a fruity apricot vinaigrette.

Servings: 4-6
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (best quality such as Swanson)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt
  • 1 10-ounce box couscous (1½ cups)
  • 6 tablespoons apricot preserves (best quality such as Bonne Maman)
  • 4½ 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)
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Bring the chicken broth, butter and ¼ 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, ¼ 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

Powered by Edamam

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

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • What would you recommend subbing for the almonds that is something nice and crunchy but suitable for anaphylactic persons who can’t have tree nuts?

    • — Beryl on April 27, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Beryl, you could substitute sunflower seeds – they’ll provide a nice crunch. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2024
      • Reply
  • I am gluten intolerant & dairy-free, so I made this with 1.5 cups dry quinoa & 3 cups homemade chicken broth, and mikonos vegan butter. Otherwise prepared as written, with parsley. It was superb!! The apricot vinaigrette is on point, and the dish only improved after sitting 30 minutes at room temperature, allowing the scallions to blend & mellow. Served alongside the equally excellent Moroccan grilled chicken, it was a massive hit with the whole family including a baby and very picky toddler. I’ll absolutely be making this again soon! Everyone was raving about it.

    • — Julia on October 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • So very good! Wonderful with your Moroccan chicken. Thank you!

    • — Becky on September 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Really yummy!

    • — Becky on September 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • I wanted to try this recipe, but my hubby was not in the mood for couscous. So instead, I made the apricot “sauce” and combined it with cooked, unsalted navy beans. I used fresh mint, and as another reviewer commented, added diced dried apricots. Put it in the fridge for a couple hours and served it cold (alongside Moroccan Grilled Chicken). Wow – it was so good. And easy to make. And since I had leftover fresh mint, I “had” to use it up in a Mint, Honey & Lemon juice salad dressing for a side salad to go along with my dinner. Life is good !!

    • — SuzanneG on August 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious! I followed the recipe, using parsley instead of mint and pignolias instead of almonds. I also added some diced dried apricots.

    • — Emily G. on August 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was absolutely delicious served with the Moroccan Grilled Chicken! Definitely a keeper.

    • — Christine S. on July 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • almonds, toasted or raw

    • — Carol on July 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Either is fine — enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 24, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I’ve made this before for a party and it was a hit! I’d like to make this at home, but we have one who’s celiac and one who’s allergic to quinoa. Would white rice work here? Jasmine or Basmati?

    • — Tara on June 26, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Tara, so glad you like this! This recipe calls for couscous which does have wheat, but quinoa is wheat free if you’d like to use that. If not, either jasmine or basmati rice would work as well.

      • — Jenn on June 27, 2023
      • Reply
  • I’ve made this several times and love it!
    Have you ever made it with vegetable bouillon and if so how did you feel about change? Do you think it would be as tasty as using chicken bouillon?
    I’d like to bring it to a potluck and a couple of people attending are vegetarians.
    Thanks for all of your fantastic recipes.

    • — Barlee on June 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Barlee, Glad you like it! I haven’t made it with veggie broth, but it should be just as tasty with it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on June 23, 2023
      • Reply
  • My husband loved it, I found it too sweet. Paired well with the Moroccan Grilled Chicken. Nice light meal.

    • — Mary McConnell Ward on June 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Do you thing bulgar would work in place of the cous cous here? My husband doesn’t really care for cous cous.

    • — Shannon C on May 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, bulgur should work. 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 23, 2023
      • Reply
  • Great! Served this with your Filipino Chicken Adobo and got raves. One guest said she normally does not like couscous but she loved this salad. Wonderful mix of savory and sweet. Just delicious. Toasting the sliced almonds really made for a nutty, extra special pop of flavor. Thanks so much, Jenn!

    • — Diane on May 15, 2023
    • Reply
  • This looks delicious and I’d like to make it for my book club. Can I make it earlier in the day and serve it at room temperature?

    • — Alison on May 3, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yep!

      • — Jenn on May 3, 2023
      • Reply
  • Do you think I could make this vegan by subbing oil for the butter?I need to take a dish for a brunch and like the idea of making a ‘fruity’ breakfast couscous!

    • — SS on April 30, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on May 1, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi, Jenn. This sounds delicious! We are a gluten-free household. Is there a sub I could use for the couscous?

    • — Terri on March 22, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Terri, quinoa would be a good alternative here. Keep in mind that quinoa needs to cook for longer than couscous — just follow the instructions on the box. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 22, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. We’ve been trying a lot of your recipes lately, and this one is on the list for next week. I don’t have white wine vinegar, and was wondering if you can substitute it with something else?

    • — Jennifer on February 18, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, Apple cider vinegar will work here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 19, 2023
      • Reply
  • We always enjoy the apricot couscous. since there are only two of us I was wondering if leftovers could be frozen after assembling.
    Thanks

    • — Elizabeth on February 13, 2023
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! I’ve never frozen it, but think you could. I’d leave the almonds out of the half you’re planning to freeze and add them when you’ve reheated and are ready to serve it.

      • — Jenn on February 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delicious, especially paired with the Moroccan Chicken as recommended. Love it and will definitely make again. Thank you.

    • — Fongic on January 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is very good – must make more often! I added both cilantro & fresh mint, with toasted almonds. This is a very fresh salad. A touch of sweetness but not overpowering.

    • — Sharon R on August 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Can I make this recipe the day before?

    • — Debbie on July 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on July 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • Just wonderful! I didn’t have apricot preserves on hand, but I did have our own peach/rhubarb and used that instead. Loved not worrying about whether it was hot, warm, or room temperature. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Sandra Lawrence on July 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious—served with Mediterranean Grilled Chicken—made gluten free by substituting quinoa for couscous—Another wonderful recipe dear Jenn!

    • — Sandy on June 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • The taste and texture combinations in this salad make it unique and delicious. Thanks.

    • — Carole Ann O'Connell
    • Reply
  • Made exactly like the recipe and took to an outdoor cookout – everybody loved it! Several people asked for me to please send them the recipe.

  • Fresh apricots are in season now, could I use them, stewed with a little sweetener, instead of the jam? Trying not to eat too much sugar!
    Amanda

    • Hi Amanda, that should work but you may need to puree them (or finely chop before you cook them) so they are the right texture. Hope you enjoy!

  • I’m really excited to try this! How would you recommend making this ahead? Can I cook the couscous, cool it, then warm it again later when dressing it?

    • Hi Jen, yes, you can cook the couscous ahead and then reheat it prior to serving. Hope you enjoy!

  • Terrible recipe – greasy and sharp. After reviewing 10 other recipes for the same thing, I see that this one has ingredients none of the others used.

  • We had this with the grilled Moroccan chicken breast and my husband declared it “perfect.”

  • This is delicious. I used very flavorful low sugar homemade apricot jam. It is nice to have a different carb side other than rice, pasta or potatoes. I am serving it with your honey Dijon salmon only I am using steelhead. And serving it with steamed green beans with butter and lemon peel.

  • Can the recipe be made with pearl couscous?

    • Sure, but the couscous cooking time may need to be adapted (follow the guidelines on the package). Enjoy!

  • I cannot tell you how good this is! I could eat this every single day. I made the recipe as written. I recently had overnight guests and made this for dinner with the Moroccan chicken. The next afternoon, my friend opened my fridge and ate all the cold leftovers, plus she asked for the recipes. I take that as a compliment.

  • I really like this recipe and have taken it to a couple events. It has been popular. For a special diet consideration, do you have a suggestion for something I could substitute for the white wine vinegar other than another vinegar?

    • Hi Deb, you could use an equal amount of lemon juice. And glad you like the recipe!

  • What would be a good substitute for white wine vinegar in this recipe? I am not a vinegar lover.

    • Hi Deb, You can use an equal amount of lemon juice in place of the vinegar. Enjoy!

  • Can I use Smuckers sugar free apricot preserves instead of Bonne Maman apricot?

    • — Lynda Freedman
    • Reply
    • Sure, Lynda, that should work. Enjoy!

  • This was DELICIOUS! I ended up eating the entire batch myself, for dinner and then lunch over the next few days. Didn’t have mint, so next time I’ll add that. I did add some orange zest, a little bit of orange juice (before measuring the liquid) and some sliced dried apricots to the water before boiling it. After cooking, along with almonds added mandarin oranges. I put the salad dressing in my tiny Cuisinart mini-processor so the apricot preserves would make the dressing creamier.
    The flavors in the dish are wonderful.
    With the leftover dressing, the next night I poured it over a pork tenderloin before cooking. Awesome! Thank you Jenn! Another great recipe

    • — Laurie Ailworth
    • Reply
  • Winner! Fast, easy, delicious, and pretty! New favorite! Thank you!!

  • Another great salad dish – I wasn’t sure about the apricot preserves but it was subtle & very good. Every salad I have tried so far are now my favorites!

  • Hi Jenn,

    Your recipes are stellar.

    On this recipe, I have never made couscous before. I carefully followed the directions, (I thought), I had ingredients prepped chopped etc., and I noticed you called for one and a half cups of water or broth, and the box asks for 1 1/4. I assume you intended the one and a half cups? ( all the recipes have turned out fabulous, except the texture on my couscous)
    I did mess up and not get to the fluffing part till couple minutes after the five minutes. I assume user error on my part there.( lol)
    I want to make this recipe and couscous again, so could you please give me advice about the one and a half cups of liquid?
    I am very grateful for your input and your recipes.
    I Have your first cookbook, and I’m looking forward to the next one.
    Thanks!!!

    • Hi Carol, sorry to hear the texture of your couscous didn’t turn out as you expected. The couscous that I use actually calls for using 1:1 ratios of liquid and couscous, so if you found that you didn’t like the texture of it (and your package directions are different), feel free to cut back on the liquid the next time you make this. Also, glad to hear you like the first cookbook — the second one is coming out in September so stay tuned!

  • Do you think this would work with Quinoa instead of couscous? I have a whole bunch!

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