I have been making a variation of this Festive Couscous Salad for Christmas for almost 20 years now when I was first asked to make the family Christmas lunch. Not only is it delicious, packed with flavour and texture, but it is so versatile. You can add absolutely anything you like and it can be served warm or cold. The bonus if you’re hosting carnivores and vegetarians or vegans, nobody will be left unsatisfied.
I am not the kind of host who likes to slave away in the kitchen for hours preparing the Christmas feast while others are enjoying each other’s company. So I like to make dishes that take very little hands on time or can be prepared in advance. This is especially useful during our hot December days where I’m sure nobody enjoys standing in front of a hot stove or oven.
This dish literally takes at most 15 minutes to prepare and assemble. And feel free to make it in advance. It keeps really well in the the fridge and even the freezer. This version includes olives, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, seed mix and fresh herbs. For me, it’s the perfect side to any protein but as mentioned, will ensure that your vegan or vegetarian guests are left full and satisfied too. Once you’ve made it, you will understand why it’s been one of my staples for so many years.
Tips & Suggestions:
Feel free to use grilled or roasted peppers from a jar or tub. Most supermarkets will have a version in their deli section or can and jar isle. You can obviously make then from scratch if you wish, or use fresh chopped peppers. I just prefer the texture, flavour and ease of using the jarred roasted version. Many deli sections have a Mediterranean mix of some kind with peppers, olives and sundried tomatoes. Feel free to use one of these mixes as it will reduce the prep as well.
You will also see that I have mentioned a tablespoon of harissa paste or spice blend, or sundried tomato paste in the couscous ingredients. This is totally optional. I like the additional flavour or little hint of spice, but the dish is just as delicious without. My original version did not include this. But since the shredded chicken I added to the leftovers was tossed in harissa paste, I discovered that it paired really well with the other ingredients.
And that brings me to a little tip. If you have any left overs, shred your leftover chicken or turkey and mix it through the couscous salad for a super easy and delicious boxing day lunch.
Simply omit or replace any ingredients you don’t care for. And feel free to use quinoa or another grain instead of couscous if you wish. Make it your own and please do share your variations with me. I love to hear how you personalise my recipes.
Festive Couscous Salad
- 1 Cup Couscous Feel free to use quinoa or other grain of your choice
- 1 tsp Vegetable Stock Powder/Granules
- ⅓ tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Harissa paste/spice blend or sundried tomato pesto Optional
- 1¼ Cups Boiling Water
- 200 grams Roasted/grilled peppers chopped I used red and green
- ¼ cup Sundried Tomatoes Chopped
- ½ cup Pitted Olives Halved (I used green olives)
- ½ cup Pine Nuts
- ¼ cup Seed Mix*
- ⅓ cup Fresh parsley Finely chopped
- ½ cup Pomegranate Seeds
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Add the couscous, stock and salt to a heat proof bowl, mix through then boil the kettle
- Note: If using harissa spice blend, add it to the couscous with the stock. If using paste or pesto, stir it into the boiling water before adding to the couscous
- Pour the boiling water evenly over the couscous, then cover with a tight fitting lid, plate, reusable cover or plastic wrap and let steam and absorb for 10 minutes
- While the couscous is 'cooking', chop any ingredients that need to be chopped and set aside
- When the couscous has absorbed all the water and increased in volume, use a fork to fluff it up and separate the grains, then add and mix through the other ingredients
- Serve warm or chill in the fridge until serving
- Note: If making ahead of time, I would recommend adding the pomegranate seeds, fresh parsley, pine nuts and seeds just before serving to ensure they do not soften/wilt. The same would apply if making in advance and freezing before use. This is not essential though as the complete salad or left overs store well in the fridge or freezer