Cold Israeli Couscous Salad with Caper Dressing

I keep seeing Israeli, sometimes referred to as Pearl, couscous popping up on restaurant menus. Since it’s made from wheat flour, it tastes very much like pasta, most similar to orzo. The cooking technique is slightly different, but still quite simple! This dish is vegan, but sometimes I serve this up with a grilled pork chop on the side.

Cold Israeli (or Pearl) Couscous Salad with Caper Dressing

Cold Israeli Couscous Salad with Caper Dressing

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings

Cold Israeli Couscous Salad with Caper Dressing


For the Salad

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • 2 cups Israeli couscous (sometimes referred to as Pearl Couscous)

  • 2 ¼ cups vegetable broth

  • 1 large bunch asparagus, woody stems removed and discarded, then cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces

  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint

For the Dressing

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

  • ¼ cup capers, drained

  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • ¼ tsp. granulated sugar

  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes depending on thickness. Drain in a colander and then transfer the asparagus to an ice bath immediately to prevent further cooking. Once cooled, drain and set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients “for the dressing” and set aside.

Heat the olive oil “for the salad” in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in the couscous and toast, stirring occasionally until a light golden brown colour is achieved, around 5-10 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous pearls are al dente.

Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. While the couscous is still warm, pour the dressing overtop. This will help it absorb all of the flavours. Let the couscous cool to room temperature.

In a large serving bowl, combine the cooled couscous, blanched asparagus, tomatoes, mint and dill. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to eat. If you want to make this ahead of time, don’t add the tomatoes until just before serving. The salad will last for up to 3-5 days refrigerated.