Pearl couscous salad with peas and pine nuts

Salad season’s here again! I must confess that for me it’s salad season all year round, so it may be more accurate to say: light and sunny salad season is here and I’m completely happy with it.

This pearl couscous salad is one of my recent favourites. With peas, chickpeas, pine nuts and cranberries it’s packed with goodness. It’s fresh, full-flavoured and incredibly easy to prepare. The ingredients’ list may seem long, but most of it consists of readily available storecupboard ingredients and dried spices. Once the couscous is cooked, all that’s left to do is throw everything together and try not to finish the whole bowl at once. I could eat this two days a week, and since my family love it as much as I do, there’s really nothing to stop me.

If you can’t get hold of pearl couscous, or want to reduce the cooking time, you can use regular couscous instead. This makes the salad even easier to prepare, because regular couscous doesn’t need to be cooked and only needs to stand for a few minutes, covered with hot water. You will miss out on the smooth feel of the pearly granules, though, which lifts the salad from just yummy to simply luscious. So if you can get your hands on them, I’d say they’re worth the search and extra pan!

The flavours of this salad improve with keeping, which makes it a perfect packed lunch or picknick dish as well as a satisfying dinner. Moroccan food gone nordic – I hope you’ll like it as much as we do.

pearl couscous

Pearl couscous salad with peas and pine nuts – serves 4


  • 250 g dried pearl couscous (I used Al’Fez’s)
  • 2 l veg stock (fresh, or made with 2 l water and 3 stock cubes)
  • 400 g canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 450 g frozen peas
  • 70 g pine nuts
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsp. desiccated coconut
  • ½ tsp. dried turmeric
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. ginger powder
  • ½ tsp. dried mint
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 30 g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 70 g dried cranberries

As indicated above, you can use an equal amount of regular couscous as an alternative for the pearl couscous. Regular couscous doesn’t need to be cooked; if you choose to use this, adjust the preparation mode according to the instructions down below.

pearl couscous


In a large pan, bring the stock to a boil, then add the pearl couscous. Lower the heat and gently simmer the couscous for 11 minutes until just tender (check the instructions on the package, though, if you’re using a different couscous brand). After 6 minutes, add the chickpeas and leave them to simmer for the remaining 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a second pan of water to the boil. Tip in the frozen peas and leave them to cook for about 5 minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside.

In a dry frying pan, toast the pine nuts until golden. Tip over into a bowl and leave to cool until using.

At the end of the cooking time, drain the couscous. If you collect the stock while doing this, you can use this at a later time as the base for a thickened soup, like, for example, my harira.

Mix the dried herbs, spices and coconut with the olive oil and stir to a paste. Mix the couscous with the herb paste and the lemon juice. Season to taste with the black pepper.

Carefully fold in the peas, cranberries and chopped parsley. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and enjoy lukewarm or cold.

The salad will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

pearl couscous

Regular couscous salad with peas and pine nuts

If instead of pearl couscous you decide to use regular couscous for this salad, the preparation mode is slightly different:

Tip the dry couscous into a bowl and stir through the dried herbs and spices. Add the drained chickpeas and pour over 400 ml hot veg stock. Cover the bowl with cling film. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then stir through the oil, lemon juice and the remaining ingredients. Serve as above.