This turmeric couscous recipe is inspired by one of my favorite salads at Whole Foods! It's light, flavorful, and perfect for summertime! It's so good whether served as a vegetarian side dish or scooped on top of some arugula with balsamic dressing.
When I lived in NYC, I'd always grab a quick lunch at the Whole Foods in Union Square.
I'd pack one of their to-go containers full of various salads, pay, and head up stairs to the dining area.
It was one of my favorite views of the city.
You could see all the people wandering around Union Square. You could see people going from vendor to vendor during the farmers markets. And of course, it was a cozy spot each winter where I could relax, zone out and watch the Christmas markets from afar.
Everytime I headed to the salad bar, I would always cross my fingers in hopes that they'd have my favorite couscous salad.
Their version, which is slightly different from mine, was very simple. Turmeric couscous, dried cranberries, pecans and green onion.
I always found myself adding extra dried cranberries and lots of feta cheese to balance out the sweetness from the cranberries.
Sometimes I would eat it as-is but most of the time, I would add a scoop of it to a bed of arugula with a splash of balsamic dressing.
These days, the closest Whole Foods is an hour away, so I started making my own versions of my favorite salad bar finds!
Which is how this tasty couscous dish came to be!
So let's get to it!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Israeli Couscous - I love using Israeli couscous for this recipe because it fluffs up into perfect little couscous balls and it's so satisfying! You could also prob use regular couscous but I recommend the Israeli variety.
- Turmeric - This spice is what gives it the beautiful yellow color! If you don't have turmeric, you could leave it out but it won't be as pretty or healthy!
- Dried Cranberries - I love using dried cranberries for this recipe but you could also use raisins or currants!
- Pecans - Feel free to swap out pecans for any of your favorite nuts!
- Feta Cheese - This is not in the original Whole Foods recipes but I love how the tang from the feta balances out the sweetness from the dried cranberries.
- Green Onion - Green onion, or scallions, add the perfect onion-y flavor that balances out this dish beautifully! If you don't have these, try using chives.
- Fresh Mint - To me, fresh mint adds so much flavor to this salad. If you don't have mint, it's not essential and you could leave it out.... but I love it in here!
- Orange Juice - I use the juice from a fresh orange but you could absolutely use store bought orange juice instead!
- Lime Juice - Same goes for the lime. Fresh is best but store bought juice will work if you're in a pinch!
How to make Turmeric Couscous
The first thing you'll want to do to make this dish, is to grab a pot that has a lid on it.
Now, add your olive oil (or another neutral oil) and the turmeric. Toast the turmeric for a minute or so over medium heat until it turns bright yellow and begins to sizzle.
Now add your couscous and stir so each piece is coated in the turmeric oil.
Toast your couscous for 2-3 minutes or until you see them get a little browned.
Now add your dried cranberries and the water, slowly, so that it bubbles the entire time.
Once all the water is added, add a sprinkle of salt and turn the heat down to a low simmer.
Put the lid on the couscous and let it cook for 12 minutes.
Once the timer goes off, remove the lid and fluff the couscous.
Pour it into another bowl and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
Now add the juice from 1 orange, the juice from 1 lime, and a hefty sprinkle of salt to taste.
Next, it's time to add the pecans, green onion, mint and feta cheese.
Stir everything together and season with more salt if necessary.
Keep in the fridge and serve cold!
Is Couscous Gluten-free?
Short answer - no!
Although it looks like a grain, it's made from semoline flour and water so it is definiltey not gluten-free.
What to pair it with
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Turmeric Couscous with Feta, Dried Cranberries & Pecans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 ⅓ cup israeli couscous
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 ¾ cup water
- 1 large orange juiced (or ⅓ cup orange juice)
- 1 small lime juiced (or 1 tbsp)
- ½ cup pecans roughly chopped
- ¼ cup scallions finely diced
- 1 tbsp fresh mint roughly chopped
- 4 oz feta crumbled
- Add olive oil and turmeric to a pan (with a tight fitting lid) over medium heat.
- Toast the turmeric for one minute, stirring frequently, until bright yellow and sizzzling.
- Add the couscous and toast for 2-3 minutes or until some of the pearls are slightly browned.
- Slowly, add in the water, little by little, so it stays boiling.
- Once the water starts to fully boil again, stir, cover and let simmer on low for 12 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, remove the lid, and fluff the couscous.
- Pour the cooked couscous into another bowl and let it cool slightly for 5-10 minutes.
- Now add the juice from 1 large orange, the juice from 1 small lime and a pinch of salt and stir.
- Then add the pecans, scallions, mint and feta and toss one more time.
- Store in the fridge and eat cold.