Mediterranean Couscous Salad with Raw Squash and Feta
Meet my favorite couscous salad, featuring pearled couscous and colorful summertime produce. This Mediterranean-style salad is light, refreshing, and overflowing with colorful rounds of thinly sliced raw zucchini and yellow squash. That’s right, raw squash! It’s so good.
This salad is a simple, light summer dish full of vegetables, whole grains, chickpeas and feta. I came up with this recipe six years ago for Free People’s blog, and it’s become one of my mom’s go-to potluck dishes. So, I thought I’d update it to meet my 2019 standards.
This salad is just the kind of meal I’m craving during this hot summer weather, and it would be perfect for your Fourth of July parties. If you’re looking for more Independence Day recipes, I’ve got you covered. I’ve listed a few of my other favorite salads below, too!
Squash Preparation Tips
Here’s the thing. Raw squash is quite tasty, totally underutilized, and a nice alternative to cucumber. The trick for this recipe is to slice the squash into very thin rounds, so it offers a tender, lightly crisp texture.
There are a few different ways to accomplish this, starting with the easiest:
- With a mandoline: Mandolines (affiliate link) are sharp contraptions that help you make quick, uniform slices. Please be careful and don’t let your fingers get too close to the blade.
- With a vegetable peeler: Once you have sliced off the tip of the squash, you can hook the center of the peeler on the outer edge of the squash and pull it across. This might take some trial and error at first. It works especially well on skinny squash (thinner than the peeler is wide).
- With a sharp chef’s knife: Simply slice across the squash making your slices as thin and even as possible.
Couscous & Pasta Options
I designed this recipe for pearled (Israeli) couscous, which is basically a small round pasta shape. I prefer to use whole grain couscous, since the regular kind seems to spike my blood sugar levels.
Unfortunately, whole wheat pearled couscous has become harder to find. You might get lucky and find it in your grocery store, or you might want to order it from Amazon like I did.
If you can’t find pearled couscous, I would opt for a different small pasta shape instead of regular (more fine) couscous. Small shells, fusilli and farfalle will all work!
- 1 ⅓ cup whole wheat Israeli couscous (or any other small pasta shape, you’ll need about 3 cups cooked)
- ⅓ cup pine nuts
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste (from 1 to 2 lemons)
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)
- ⅓ cup pitted and thinly sliced Kalamata olives
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced into super thin rounds
- 1 small yellow squash, sliced into super thin rounds
- ⅓ cup (⅔ ounce) chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley