Athenian Couscous Salad Recipe - Vegetarian Greek Dish

Athenian Couscous Salad

Athenian Couscous Salad Recipe - Vegetarian Greek Dish
Region / culture: Greece | Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 5 minutes | Servings: 4 | Vegetarian diet


Athenian Couscous Salad
Athenian Couscous Salad

The Athenian Couscous Salad is a refreshing and vibrant dish that brings the flavors of the Mediterranean to your table. This salad combines the nutty taste of couscous with the freshness of vegetables and herbs, topped with the tangy zest of lemon and the richness of feta cheese. It's a perfect dish for warm summer days, picnics, or as a nutritious side dish that complements a wide range of main courses.


The recipe for Athenian Couscous Salad is inspired by the traditional flavors of Greek cuisine, which is known for its use of fresh vegetables, herbs, and olive oil. Couscous, although more commonly associated with North African cuisine, has been embraced by many Mediterranean countries due to its versatility and ease of preparation. This salad is a modern interpretation that combines elements from various Mediterranean culinary traditions, creating a dish that is both familiar and novel.


How to prepare

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the broth and couscous and bring it to a boil.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes, allowing the broth to be absorbed.
  3. Transfer the couscous to a bowl and let it cool.
  4. Once cooled, use your fingers to break apart any lumps in the couscous.
  5. Add the tomato, green onions, cucumber, parsley, and feta cheese to the couscous.
  6. In a small jar, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, and cayenne.
  7. Cover the jar and shake well to blend the dressing.
  8. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.
  9. Refrigerate the salad and bring it to room temperature before serving.


  • Substitute quinoa or bulgur wheat for couscous for a gluten-free option.
  • Add olives, capers, or artichoke hearts for additional Mediterranean flavors.
  • For a vegan version, omit the feta cheese or use a dairy-free cheese alternative.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure the best texture and flavor for your Athenian Couscous Salad, consider the following tips:

- Use vegetable broth to cook the couscous for added flavor.

- Allow the couscous to cool completely before adding the other ingredients to prevent wilting of the herbs and vegetables.

- Crumble the feta cheese finely to ensure it is evenly distributed throughout the salad.

- For the best flavor, let the salad sit for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Serving Suggestions

This salad can be served on its own as a light meal or accompanied by grilled chicken, fish, or lamb for a more substantial meal. It also makes a delightful side dish for picnics and potlucks.

Cooking Techniques

The key technique in preparing this salad is allowing the couscous to absorb the broth off the heat, ensuring it becomes fluffy and not mushy. Additionally, shaking the dressing in a jar emulsifies the ingredients, creating a more cohesive flavor.

Ingredient Substitutions

For a different grain, try using quinoa, rice, or bulgur.

- Any soft cheese can be substituted for feta, such as goat cheese or mozzarella.

- If fresh lemon juice is not available, bottled lemon juice can be used, though fresh is preferred for the best flavor.

Make Ahead Tips

This salad can be made up to a day in advance, with the dressing added just before serving to maintain the freshness and texture of the vegetables.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the salad in a large, shallow bowl to showcase the colorful ingredients. Garnish with additional minced parsley and lemon wedges for a bright, appetizing presentation.

Pairing Recommendations

A crisp white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a Greek Assyrtiko, pairs beautifully with the fresh flavors of this salad. For non-alcoholic options, consider a sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

This salad is best enjoyed cold or at room temperature. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. It is not recommended to freeze this salad.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Athenian Couscous Salad contains approximately 200-250 calories, making it a light yet satisfying option for a meal or side dish.


A serving of Athenian Couscous Salad provides a moderate amount of carbohydrates, primarily from the couscous and vegetables. Couscous is a good source of complex carbohydrates, which are essential for energy. The vegetables add dietary fiber, which aids in digestion.


The fats in this salad come mainly from the olive oil and feta cheese. Olive oil is a source of monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy. Feta cheese adds a small amount of saturated fat, but it also contributes to the salad's rich flavor and creamy texture.


Couscous and feta cheese provide the primary sources of protein in this salad. While not high in protein, this dish can contribute to your daily protein intake, especially when served as part of a meal that includes other protein sources.

Vitamins and minerals

This salad is rich in vitamins and minerals, thanks to the variety of vegetables and herbs. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and iron. Feta cheese adds calcium, which is important for bone health.


The primary allergens in this dish are gluten (from the couscous) and dairy (from the feta cheese). Individuals with sensitivities to these ingredients should consider substitutions.


Overall, the Athenian Couscous Salad is a nutritious dish that offers a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, along with a variety of vitamins and minerals. It's a healthy choice for those looking to enjoy the flavors of the Mediterranean in a light and refreshing salad.


The Athenian Couscous Salad is a celebration of Mediterranean flavors, combining the simplicity of couscous with the freshness of vegetables and herbs, all brought together with a zesty lemon-olive oil dressing. It's a versatile dish that can be adapted to suit various dietary needs and preferences, making it a perfect addition to any meal.

How did I get this recipe?

I have a clear memory of the first time I saw this recipe for Athenian Couscous Salad. It was a warm summer day, and I was visiting my dear friend Maria in her beautiful garden in Athens. As we sat at a quaint wooden table under the shade of a blossoming lemon tree, Maria brought out a large bowl filled with a colorful and fragrant salad that immediately caught my eye.

Maria explained that this salad was a traditional dish in Greece, known for its fresh ingredients and vibrant flavors. She told me that she had learned the recipe from her own grandmother, who had passed it down through generations. Intrigued by the dish's unique combination of ingredients, I asked Maria if she would be willing to share the recipe with me.

With a warm smile, Maria agreed and began to walk me through the steps of making the Athenian Couscous Salad. She started by boiling water in a large pot and adding in some couscous, a staple ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. As the couscous cooked and absorbed the water, Maria chopped up a colorful array of vegetables – ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, tangy red onions, and fragrant mint leaves.

Once the couscous had cooled, Maria fluffed it with a fork and added in the chopped vegetables, along with some crumbled feta cheese and juicy black olives. She then drizzled the salad with a simple dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, and a touch of honey, which added a sweet contrast to the savory flavors of the dish.

As we sat down to enjoy the salad together, Maria shared stories of her childhood in Greece, of family gatherings filled with laughter and love, and of the joy of cooking traditional dishes passed down from generation to generation. It was a magical moment, one that I would never forget.

After returning home from my visit with Maria, I couldn't wait to recreate the Athenian Couscous Salad in my own kitchen. I gathered the ingredients – couscous, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, feta cheese, black olives, mint leaves, olive oil, lemon juice, and honey – and set to work following the recipe that Maria had so generously shared with me.

As I chopped and stirred, the familiar scents of the Mediterranean filled my kitchen, transporting me back to that sunny day in Maria's garden. I felt a deep connection to my friend and to the generations of women who had lovingly prepared this dish before me.

When the Athenian Couscous Salad was finally ready, I took a bite and was instantly transported back to Greece. The flavors were bright and bold, the textures crisp and refreshing. I could taste the love and history that had gone into creating this dish, and I felt grateful for the friendship that had brought it into my life.

Since that day, the Athenian Couscous Salad has become a staple in my own cooking repertoire. I have shared the recipe with friends and family, passing on the tradition of this delicious dish to the next generation. Every time I make it, I am reminded of Maria and our special connection, of the power of food to bring people together and to preserve memories of the past.

As I sit here now, reflecting on that fateful day in Maria's garden, I am filled with gratitude for the gift of this recipe and for the friendships that have enriched my life. The Athenian Couscous Salad will always hold a special place in my heart, a symbol of tradition, connection, and the joy of sharing a meal with loved ones. And for that, I am truly thankful.


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