This summery couscous salad with mint and lemon is great for a picnic, or after a day on the beach to help you regain all the minerals lost in the sun.
In 2012 we visited a family of good friends in Brittany, France.
With them we went on a trip to Le Mont-Saint-Michel, an island commune in Normandy, France, UNESCO World Heritage, exposed to the highest tides in Europe.
The night before the trip, our friend Kiki prepared a fantastic couscous salad with fresh raw vegetables.
She finely chopped the onion, the tomatoes and the cucumber and mixed them to the ready couscous.
She placed the bowl in the fridge overnight and the day after, just before visiting Saint-Michel, we had a lovely picnic.
I remember we liked the dish so much that we bought a number of sachets of that couscous in a supermarket in Rennes, to bring it back to Ireland with us. It had the mint and lemon already in and you just needed cold water to “cook” the couscous.
Since those beautiful days in France I have prepared this summery couscous salad many times for our picnics.
Today I made it using a special Fair Trade whole wheat couscous that comes from Palestine and is definitely bigger than the most known one: its pasta pearls are 2-3 mm in diameter.
We used to buy this couscous in Italy in Fair Trade shops, but this year we can find it in some supermarkets too (in Italy).
This amazing couscous, known as “maftoul”, is quite different from the usual couscous.
It’s a high quality product, made out of a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flour rolled around a center of bulgur, and it’s still completely handmade by local women in Gaza, according to time-honored traditions.
It really has a distinctive taste.
And, in fact, it won in the past the Cous Cous Fest, a worldwide-famous festival based in San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily, Italy, aimed at celebrating the couscous but also the importance of the integration of different cultures.
(Sicily’s culture has been deeply impacted by Arabs – and its culinary traditions too. The couscous – here called cuscusu – is still, nowadays, the main component of several typical dishes in Western Sicily).
If you can’t find the maftoul to buy, you can prepare this summer couscous salad with your usual couscous, or even learn to make maftoul from scratch.
Ingredients for couscous salad with mint and lemon
- 250 gr couscous
- 1 red onion
- 3 tomatoes
- 2 carrots
- 3 cucumbers (or just 1, if that’s the long type we find in Ireland and that comes from Holland)
- 1 pepper (possibly yellow, just for aesthetic reasons)
- 5 sprigs of fresh mint
- 1 lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil
How to Prepare The Couscous Salad With Mint and Lemon
Cook your couscous according to the instructions on your package. Our “maftoul” for example usually requires boiling for 15 minutes (but it is worthy!).
Let it cool.
Chop all your vegetables in tiny little dices.
Add the vegetables to the couscous.
Chop the mint and add it in.
Squeeze in the juice of one lemon.
Season with oil and salt.
Mix very well.
Place it in the fridge and enjoy it after few hours or the day after!
P.S.: I have used only one lemon because my kids don’t fancy the sour flavor that much, but of course you can add as much as you like. Or grate some zest in the couscous salad if you happen to have an organic lemon on hand!