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Fall Israeli Couscous Salad

Our love of salads doesn’t have to end with summer veggies. This beautiful, autumn-hued salad is full of fall’s best vegetables (sweet potatoes, fennel, carrots, kale), along with late season bumper crops of our summer favorites to create a best-of-both-worlds meal. Protein-packed and tummy-filling, this Fall Israeli Couscous Salad is an oh-so-tasty introduction to autumn’s hearty produce.

Fall Israeli Couscous Salad, served family-style, in a bowl. Recipe at SoupAddict.com

Fun fact: I eat a vegetable salad every single day. Or maybe that’s not so much a fun fact as a sign of some kind of compulsive disorder. Or maybe it’s a quirky hereditary thing (my dad ate Rice Krispies cereal every morning for breakfast for the 45 years that he was alive in my life … and many more years than that, if my siblings are to be believed). Or maybe I’m just that boring, lol.

What you might have been expecting me to say is that it’s soup I eat every day, and while that’s certainly more the case in months containing the letter “r,” it’s actually salad that’s 365, summer-winter-spring-fall, Sunday through Saturday. And it’s not just salads, but healthy salads. Cheese, no. Meat, no. Goopy, sugary, dairy dressings, oh hells no. Just vegetables and legumes, loads of greens, and sometimes some whole grains (brown rice or quinoa) and oh! sliced almonds, which I think are my favorite salad topping ever.

A good sprinkling of ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, and a nice pour of smoky tomato dressing, blended salsa, or a quick jar-shaken homemade lemon vinaigrette, and that, my friends, is lunch.

Fall Israeli Couscous Salad, loaded with delicious late summer and fall veggies. Recipe at SoupAddict.com

Why salad, crazy SoupAddict? Because I can’t think of a better way to get two servings of vegetables and greens into this human canister than a big heaping plate of salad. And I totally take back what I just jokingly said about salads every day being boring, because look ^^^^^^^ That’s not what I call a boring salad, with all those colors and textures and crunch!

My typical lunch this summer has been a veggie salad, homegrown pickling cucumbers sliced thick and dipped into homemade guacamole or hummus, and grapes or strawberries or peaches. Soooo good. (And although I’m honestly ready for fall and jeans weather, from a lunch perspective, I’m also bummed that summer is wrapping up, because the fruits and veggies have been so delish this year. The strawberries and peaches = {dreamy}.

But, in the moment, this is actually a great time of year as far as veggies are concerned. The winter squashes and potatoes are starting to show up at the farmers’ markets, and hearty greens like kale and spinach thrive in cooler temps, so their time is coming around once again.

Today’s Fall Israeli Couscous Salad is a happy handshake between summer and fall: “Cucumbers, meet sweet potatoes. Kale, meet summer squash. Cumin and curry, say hello to dill and parsley.”

Fall Israeli Couscous Salad, loaded with delicious late summer and fall veggies. Recipe at SoupAddict.com

The sweet potatoes, I have to say, are the stars of this salad. I use a purple skinned, white fleshed Asian variety that is deeply flavorful, earthy, and slightly sweet. They’re easily sourced here in Cincinnati, so I imagine most places should have them, too. I really recommend you give them a try, especially if you’re not overly fond of the orange-fleshed Beauregard variety that’s a staple at big-box grocery stores. Hopefully your store labels their produce properly (although mine doesn’t always … looking at you, Kroger), but they’re easy to spot: standard sweet potatoes/yams have a medium garnet skin that leans toward pinkish-red in tone. Asian potatoes are also jewel-colored, but they have a distinctly purple tinge.

The potatoes take just 15 minutes to saute on the stove top. I set them to cook as I’m futzing about, prepping my lunch (I work from home, so I can make lunch fresh every day), and by the time I’m ready to plop myself in front of the noon news, they’ve had a few minutes to cool and are ready to top my salad.

Sweet potatoes are a natural fit for my fall Israeli couscous salad, but I’ve actually been adding sweet potatoes to my salads all summer long. Sweet potatoes are carby, but they’re a good carb that digests slowly so that you’re not sugar-bombing your system into a 2pm brain fog.

Fall Israeli Couscous Salad. Recipe at SoupAddict.com

Finally, let’s talk pasta. One of the things that makes this fall salad extra special is the spiced-up pasta. Cooked in a savory, curried broth with cumin and smoked paprika, these little pastas add a touch of autumn warmth with every bite. And for folks who think a salad isn’t a meal, pasta always helps kick it over into main-course territory.

And, you have options: as per the name of the recipe, you can use Israeli couscous, which is couscous shaped into small balls. Or, if you have access to specialty pastas, try fregola, which is similar in shape to Israeli couscous, but the pasta is toasted, heightening its nutty flavors. I think orzo would be fabulous, too. The salad in these photos actually contains fregola, because that’s what I had in the house when the weekend hit and it was time to take purty pictures of my lunch. 😉

If you’ve had your fill of summer caprese salads, and are looking to transition to something more seasonal, I hope you’ll give this one a try.

Karen xo

Fall Israeli Couscous Salad | Recipe at SoupAddict.com
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Fall Israeli Couscous Salad

Late summer and early fall vegetables, with lots of kale, mix to create a scrumptious and healthy salad.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time35 mins
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

for the greens:

  • 4 leaves lacinato kale , thick stems discarded, leaves chopped (see notes)
  • olive oil
  • 1 fresh lime or lemon
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh spinach , chopped
  • 2 heaping tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 heaping teaspoon chopped fresh fennel leaves , optional (see notes)
  • table salt

for the sweet potatoes:

  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet potato , cubed (I use the white-fleshed Asian variety)

for the pasta:

  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup fregola pasta (or Israeli couscous) (see notes)

for the salad:

  • 1 medium carrot , diced
  • 1/2 field cucumber (or 1 pickling cucumber), diced
  • 1 small summer squash or yellow zucchini , diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper , diced
  • 1 bulb fennel (anise), chopped
  • 1 cup chickpeas

Instructions

prepare the greens:

  • Place the kale leaves in a large mixing bowl. Add just the slightest blop of oil to the bowl (seriously, a 1/2-second pour is all you need), along with a big squeeze from a lemon or lime half. Use your fingertips to massage the oil into the kale (see notes). After a few minutes, the kale will become silky and bright green. Add the spinach and herbs, tossing to mix. Sprinkle a big pinch of salt over the greens, and set aside.

prepare the sweet potatoes:

  • Over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a saute pan or skillet - you'll need a lid or a cover (such as foil). Add the potatoes cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cover, and let the potatoes brown/steam in the pan, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. Stir to redistribute the potatoes, and re-cover, letting the potatoes cook for several minutes. Repeat until the potatoes are fork tender, and golden/lightly browned on most sides, 15 to 20 minutes total. Remove from heat, and transfer temporarily to a bowl, to cool.

prepare the pasta:

  • Note that you can prepare the pasta at the same time as the potatoes, and let them cool together.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable broth to a 2 quart pot and heat over medium-high. When the broth begins to simmer, add the spices, plus 1/2 teaspoon salt, to the liquids, and stir to create a fragrant paste. Add the remaining broth, and bring to a boil.
  • Add the fregola or Israeli couscous to the pot, and cook according to package directions. Check the pasta near the end of cooking; if all of the liquids have been absorbed before the end of the cooking time, add another tablespoon or two of water, and let that absorb. Remove from the heat, and let cool.

assemble the salad:

  • Add the chopped raw vegetables to the bowl of greens, along with the cooled sweet potatoes, spiced pasta, and the chickpeas. Toss well.
  • To serve, feel free to drizzle your favorite extra virgin olive oil over the salad, along with a big squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt. Or, use your favorite vinaigrette. (I wouldn't recommend a heavy, creamy salad dressing, but that's just personal preference, of course.)
  • Salad will keep very well in the fridge for 3 days.

Notes

- Lacinato kales leaves are long and slender; if you're using regular kale, scale back the quantity a bit if you think it's going to be too much kale.
- Why the massage? Two main reasons: massaging kale softens the texture considerably, so it's less like chewing on thick pieces of paper. As someone with food aversion issues, texture (not necessarily flavor ) can be a real barrier to liking a food. Second, some folks just have trouble digesting raw kale, and the massage breaks down the tough fibers enough for it to be tummy-tolerable.
- Most grocery stores leave the stalks and leaves attached to the fennel bulb. If so, use the feathery fennel leaves as you would dill; they're delish, too.
- This salad is infinity flexible. Add riced cauliflower if you want. Or broccoli florets. Or shaved raw Brussels sprouts. Or use butternut squash in place of sweet potatoes. It's all good!

- I only sauteed the sweet potatoes, but you can do the same to other veggies to soften them up, such as the carrots, if your fam has a thing against overly crunchy vegetables.
- Optional: while the potatoes and pasta were cooling, I sauteed the chickpeas over medium heat until their outsides had dried out a bit, which firmed them up: slightly crunchy vs. creamy.
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.

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Fall Israeli Couscous Salad - Recipe at SoupAddict.com | #vegan #vegetarian #fallvegetablesFall Israeli Couscous Salad - Recipe at SoupAddict.com

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Recipe Rating




Isadora Guidoni

Monday 11th of September 2017

Wow, this salad looks so delicious!! I really love the ingredients you chose, so I'm definitely trying it myself =)