Couscous springtime salad

A bright and satisfying main or side dish!

I love grain salads, especially when served as a main course for brunch, lunch or dinner.  This one is hearty and delicious, with bright, fresh springtime flavours and colours, though it can be enjoyed at any time of year. I recommend waiting until just before serving to dress this salad as the couscous absorbs the liquid pretty quickly so the salad can be a bit dry if dressed in advance. If you don’t prefer couscous, feel free to swap in cracked wheat (bulgar or freekeh) or quinoa and adjust the amount of cooking liquid according to package directions. Whatever grain you choose, you’ll find this dish as nutritious as it is pretty.


  • 3/4 cup (177 mL) orange juice
  • 3/4 cup (177 mL) water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) grated ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (270 g ) couscous
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) olive oil
  • 18 stalks of asparagus
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) white wine or water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 4 green onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) toasted walnut or pecan pieces
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Few pinches cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


  • In a large saucepan, combine orange juice, water, ginger and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir in couscous and remove from heat. Cover and let sit 10 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed. Fluff couscous with a fork and leave it pot, covered.
  • While couscous cooks, snap woody ends off asparagus stems and place in a single layer in a heatproof dish (preferably one with a lid but you can use beeswax or plastic wrap if needed). Bring a large kettle of water to a boil then pour over asparagus. Cover and let sit 10 – 12 minutes (less if stems are really slender) until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water until cooled. Dry well then cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces and set aside.
  • While couscous is resting, put white wine (or water) and olive oil in a broad, shallow pan. Bring to a boil then add red pepper and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add peas and sauté one additional minute.
  • Cut rind off oranges. Cut into sixths and slice sections into bite-sized pieces.
  • Transfer cooked couscous to a serving bowl and add asparagus, peppers, peas, oranges and minced green onions; stir gently to combine. Salad can be prepared ahead to this point and stored at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
  • Whisk together lemon juice, rice vinegar, Dijon, salt, pepper, cayenne and maple syrup. Add olive oil and whisk until well blended.
  • When ready to serve, re-whisk dressing and drizzle over salad; toss gently to combine.  
  • Garnish with chopped nuts and parsley; serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4 – 6.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

13 thoughts

  1. I prefer the pasta cous cous over the grain. Your recipes look delicious and I will be sure to use them. I cook my pasta cous cous in a chicken boulione, makes a big difference.

  2. To previous comment from Val, I lived in Saudi Arabia for a number of years and greatly enjoyed Middle East cooking.

  3. Made this tonight! Delicious! I’ve never made couscous but it is so easy and nice and light. Glad I made it with the couscous, I was going to try quinoa. Definitely making it again

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