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.

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
ingredinets
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.

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.

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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

  • 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

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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Reviews & Comments

  • Hi Jenn,
    Would I be able to double this recipe? I want to make it for a dinner party and I will have 8 guests.

    Thank you!

    Kristen Berry

    • Yep, no problem :).

  • Yumm!! Warm or cold – yum. Substitute brown rice – yum. Serve with the Grilled Moroccan Chicken- yumm!!

  • Love this side with the grilled moroccan chicken. Wonderful blend of flavors and very easy to make. Another winner!

  • This was really good, I used whole wheat spelt couscous. I like a couple of other reviews felt it might be too sweet; so to maintain the apricot taste without adding the sweetness of preserves, I just cut up about 4 or 5 dried apricots and let them marinade in the oil for an hour or so. Then proceeded to make the recipe as directed. Used lemon juice instead of vinegar. Turned out great!

    • Honestly, I thought it would be way to sweet with the apricot jam, but it’s not, it’s very subtle. The other ingredients balance out. Also you only add about 3/4 of the dressing to the couscous to start with then add the rest to taste. I also added only a little of the mint.
      Delicious!

      • — Danielle L. on October 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • I love this as a side dish with fish. I usually have any leftovers for lunch the next day. I absolutely love the flavours and texture of the dish.

  • I paired this with the middle eastern chicken kabobs and it was SO good. Great flavor combo. Also added grilled asparagus giving us a little more greens.

    • — Arielle Troiano
    • Reply
  • This couscous was so good! I didn’t have the apricot jam so I used my homemade peach jam- it turned out so nice! I used one less tbs to make sure it wasn’t too sweet. My husband loved it with the Moroccan chicken.

  • Can I use peach jam instead of the apricot? I made some home made jam and don’t have apricot.

    • Sure Daniella, that would be fine. Enjoy!

  • Easy, beautiful and delicious.

  • This was a perfect side dish with our grilled chicken kebabs. The adults loved it, but it was not a hit with the kids.

  • Jenn – have you tried this with quinoa yet? I would like to make it but need a gluten free grain.

    • Sure Laura, it should be fine to use quinoa instead. Enjoy!

  • Thanks so much for your delicious and easy to make recipes. Especially appreciated as no one has taught me to cook and I don’t feel confident in the kitchen, so just learning on my own. I sometimes get intimidated by recipes requiring complicated techniques but these are easy and turn out so well. I made this couscous with the Morroccan chicken and everyone loved both. I liked that something so easy could turn out so well.

  • Since I don’t love couscous, may I use rice?

    • Definitely!

  • I made this as a side with the Moroccan Chicken and it was a very generous meal. The tastes blended together perfectly and we could not get enough. Thank you for your recipes. I haven’t found one I didn’t love!

  • This recipe is wonderfully easy, colorful, and absolutely delicious! Made it to go along with parmesan baked chicken and the slight sweetness of the apricot preserves was the perfect compliment! Another winner Jenn! Thank you!

  • Loved this easy to make (and easy to double) side dish. It was very easy to make it ahead of time – we ate it at room temperature and it was delish! I will be making this again for sure. I toasted the almonds because my husband is allergic to raw nuts, but otherwise I followed the directions exactly. Yum!

  • Could this work with the Hoisin ribs if I use parsley?

    • Hi Susan, Yes, I think it will work well.

  • I followed the recipe the first time I made it and it turned out great. Second time, I substituted quinoa for the couscous. Don’t do it! It turned into a wet soppy salad that we eventually pitched. Next time I will just use whole wheat couscous.

  • I did make this on Monday with some grilled fish…. I loved the flavor combo, I do have to say I did not have the couscous so I used quinoa instead and loved it.

  • I have always like couscous but have never thought to add apricot flavor. Sounds delicious!

  • This is a divine recipe. Thank you!!

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

    • Sure, Cristina — that would be fine!

  • 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

    • 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!

  • 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!

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • sounds delicious, could you substitute quinoa for the couscous? thank you

    • Hi Rita, Yes that’d be fine.

      • thanks for getting back so fast! can’t wait to try!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • Another winner! Easy with big flavor pay off.

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

  • Lundberg makes a brown rice based couscous that is fabulous

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

  • 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
    • 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
    • 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.

  • 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?

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

  • 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.

    • I hope so, Danita! Thank you 🙂

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

    • 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!

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

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

  • 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,
    [email protected] Contessa

  • 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-

  • 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.

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

  • 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?

    • Yes, quinoa would be great!

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