Watermelon Couscous Salad
The original recipe for this Watermelon Couscous Salad was given to my by my sister. She found it in the recipe section of Detroit Free Press article about Israeli Couscous.
It’s been the star of this season’s potlucks, getting rave reviews and many recipe requests. Best of all, no leftovers.
Since watermelon is one of my favorite fruits to eat, I’ve been trying lots of ways to use it this summer. The Watermelon Salsa I made recently was tasty and well liked by my guests, so I was up for trying another fun watermelon recipe. Enter Watermelon Couscous Salad.
Israeli Couscous anyone?
But where to find Israeli Couscous in my little town in Central Illinois? Amazon of course! Israeli Couscous was delivered quickly to my door. Thank you, Amazon Prime.
I really should have read the description a little closer when I first purchased my bag of couscous, though. I’m now the proud owner of this HUGE bag of couscous. Yes, this “Value Pack” was a bargain, and I never pass up those ($7.25) but 5 pounds? That’s 10 cups’ worth folks! And I only needed 1 cup for the recipe.
So, I’ve been sharing with anyone who’ll take some off my hands. As for the rest? I will continue on my quest to find lots and lots of recipes to experiment with.
What is couscous?
I was certain couscous was a grain. Like barley or quinoa. Turns out I was wrong. (Yes, family and friends, I admit it. I’ve even put it down right here in writing.)
Couscous is actually a pasta. It comes in a couple of different sizes. There’s the itty bitty couscous that looks like rice and there’s the larger pearl-like Israeli couscous. Watermelon Couscous Salad uses Israeli.
Preparing the Watermelon for the Salad
- Prep the watermelon. Cut the watermelon into a small dice.
- Place the diced watermelon in a colander and then place the colanderinto a large bowl.
- Sprinkle the watermelon with a little bit of salt, about 1/2 teaspoon. This helps to draw out some of the liquid, and you need to get rid of the liquid.
- Let the watermelon drain over a large bowl while preparing the rest of the salad.
- Draining the watermelon helps prevent the salad from getting too mushy and waterlogged.
Preparing the Couscous for the Salad
- Follow the suggestions on the package for preparing basic couscous.
- I followed the suggestions in the recipe and started browning the couscous before adding water. It took about 4 minutes for the browning to complete.
- Stir the pan frequently as it browns. You don’t want it to burn. It should turn a beautiful shade of brown, with a pleasant nutty aroma.
- Add water to the browned couscous and cook it for about 10 minutes.
- Taste couscous for doneness. If they still have a little bit too much “bite” to them, continue to cook them for another 3 minutes.
- The recipe indicated 15 minutes of cooking time, but I found that to be too long. My suggestion is to do as I did–start tasting at around 10 minutes. The couscous should have a little bit of a bite, al dente, just like all the other types of pasta.
- When the couscous has reached the right color of brown, add 2 cups water and salt and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the couscous is tender.
- Drain any remaining liquid from the pan.
- Spread the couscous evenly on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over the couscous and stir to combine.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool.
How to Make the Watermelon Couscous Salad
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked and cooled couscous, drained watermelon cubes, onion, cheese, basil and arugula.
In a separate small bowl, make the dressing.
Combine the remaining 3 Tablespoons olive oil and vinegar.
Pour dressing over salad, and toss to coat evenly.
Where do you find arugula?
I’m not fortunately to have easy access to arugula. And I have learned to be resourceful living in the corn belt. Lucky for me, I found that Walmart and Aldi sell a combination arugula and spinach. It’s takes a little time to separate the arugula from the spinach, but it works out well.
I save the spinach for a spinach salad and use the arugula for Watermelon Couscous Salad.
After adding arugula for the right amount of pepperiness and feta cheese for the right amount of salty flavor, I felt the finished salad still lacked a little flavor. The red onion I put in my Watermelon Salsa recipe tasted great so I decided to add it here, too. The red onion added just the right amount of oomph I was looking for.
About the nutritional value
- Watermelon is high in vitamin C and amino acids that boots immunity. This helps ward off cardiovascular disease and maybe even cancer.
- Watermelon has a high level of potassium and magnesium to help lower blood pressure along with cardiovascular and stroke risk.
- High lycopene levels may help prevent prostate cancer and could lower the risk for kidney stones.
- Watermelon is also a natural anti-inflammatory that may aid muscle aches and pains.
- Did I mention natural diuretic? It’s that, too.
You’ve got nothing to lose with this recipe.
Watermelon Couscous Salad
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups diced watermelon
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
- 1/3 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1 cup arugula chopped
- 1/4 cup white wine rice or sherry vinegar
- HEAT 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan, ADD the couscous and STIR until the couscous begins to turn brown color and smell toasty, about 4 minutes.
- ADD 2 cups water and salt and bring to a BOIL. REDUCE heat, COVER and SIMMER 10-15 minutes or until the couscous is tender. DRAIN any remaining liquid from the pan.
- SPREAD couscous evenly on a baking sheet. DRIZZLE 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over the couscous and STIR to combine. COVER with plastic wrap and PLACE in the fridge to COOL.
- CHOP watermelon into a small dice. DRAIN the watermelon while you cook the couscous and prep the other ingredients to get rid of excess liquid.
- To make the salad: In a large bowl, COMBINE the cooked and cooled couscous, drained watermelon cubes, onion, cheese, basil and arugula.
- In a separate small bowl, COMBINE the remaining 3 Tablespoons olive oil and vinegar. POUR dressing over salad. TOSS to coat thoroughly.