'Tis the season for easy, cold summer salads. For someone like me who isn't a huge lettuce salad fan, but who wants all the benefits of eating healthy summer salads, finding alternatives to this popular warm weather food has always been a challenge. Enter the easy couscous salad recipe with cranberries.
Go directly to the couscous salad recipe by clicking on the slides. There's only a couple of steps and ingredients for this yummy salad. You'll find more tips about how to make this even yummier at the end of the page.
- Try this Mediterranean Chicken Breasts Recipe With Hummus With Your Summer Salad
- Keep Your Summer Salads Fresh: Tips for Storing Produce
- Spicy Raspberry and Strawberry Cheesecake Desserts to go With Your Summer Couscous Salad
Introducing Couscous Salad...Ta Da!
I must admit, growing up in diner culture like I did, the best salad recipes that I could come up with before I moved back East at age 18 consisted of heaps of lettuce, sliced tomatoes, a generous supply of Thousand Island dressing that coated the leaves of lettuce like a Texas oil spill and crunched up crackers on top. We didn't believe in croutons, apparently. I'm guessing this is part of the reason why leafy lettuce salads hold little appeal to me. Just a guess...
It wasn't until I became a nanny in New York that I actually discovered what I considered to be some of the best, most fun and tastiest summer salads recipes in my life. (I discovered those and the gourmet bread drawer in my employer's home, but that's another article.)
I came into the kitchen one Saturday, and my nanny boss was heaping together something that looked like rice into a bowl with Kalamata olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, green onions and even more feta, because as I quickly learned, couscous salad without feta is sacrilege.
"What's that?" I asked.
"Mediterranean Couscous Salad," she answered.
"What's Medi…What is couscous salad?"
And then she told me about such deliciousness as I have ever heard. It was that day that my life was changed. Ok. That's a bit dramatic, but it was momentous. I learned that cold summer salads for cookouts, get togethers, play dates and all manner of social occasions requiring a generous supply of food and mirth did NOT need to include lettuce. Oh my stars!
The Best Summer Salads Recipes are the Easy Summer Salad Recipes
Here's the thing. I do actually like many delicious, healthy summer salads. I just like them when they're mostly made of vegetables like mushrooms, avocados, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers and occasionally some spinach. You know, a hearty salad that doesn't remind me of the Texas oil spills of my youth. If said salads are also easy salad recipes to make, then they earn bonus points from me, particularly if I'm looking for salad recipes for a crowd.
That's why I like the great summer salads ideas that I get from cooking up a little couscous. Granted, my first couscous salad recipe was the Mediterranean kind, I've since encountered many tasty variations of this dish using couscous, which is by the way a type of pasta dish that originates from the Berbers in Africa, according to the Wikipedia entry about couscous.
But as good food recipes go, it wasn't long before the Sicilians and the French commandeered it as their own. And then with plane travels, ships leaving harbor and now the internet, ANYONE and EVERYONE can try the deliciousness that is the summer couscous salad. Even me, who was kind of backward when it came to anything that wasn't diner food, which explains my first attempts at spelling the dish as "cous cous salad" instead of how it's properly spelled. I hope the gourmets out there will forgive me for that...
Add Goodies to This Couscous Salad Recipes Like Chicken or Feta
But I digress. This recipe for couscous salad with cranberries doesn't include the tastes that make it Mediterranean (no olives, no feta). However, I do like to alter the original recipe by making it a grilled chicken couscous salad instead of a vegetarian salad when I need something heartier.
However, at its core, this recipe for couscous salad doesn't have any meat unless you add it. It's one of my favorite picnic salads, because it holds up so well in the cooler. It's also a good recipe if you like making summer salads for dinner instead of a full-blown meal.
Possible Items to Add to This Summer Salad
- Grilled chicken or shrimp
- Pine nuts
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Chopped mushrooms
- Avocado slices