Carrot Chickpea Couscous Salad
4.41 from 5 votes

This carrot chickpea couscous salad is a flavorful, filling vegan lunch. Quick cooking couscous makes the salad quick to prepare, and it can be served either warm or cold.

An oval, white ceramic dish is filled with a chickpea couscous salad. It rests on a white surface.

There’s nothing like a quick, hearty salad for lunch.

During colder months of the year, I switch up my salad game a little. Instead of using leafy greens as my base, I tend to use grains, legumes, sweet potato, or pasta as the base instead.

While couscous looks like a grain, it’s actually the tiniest pasta shape. So this chickpea couscous salad is technically a pasta salad, though I sort of think that couscous belongs in a unique category of its own.

The nicest thing about couscous is that it takes only minutes to cook. It’s faster than most whole grains, so you can have lunch (or a light dinner) on the table within about thirty minutes.

Types of couscous

There are a few types of couscous available.

Traditional Moroccan couscous is made from semolina wheat. It’s very small—the smallest type of couscous—and cooks within minutes. That’s the type of couscous that I use in this recipe.

This type of couscous can usually be found in either a whole wheat or a regular form. You can use either type in the chickpea couscous salad.

There is also pearl couscous, which is more plump and chewy than Moroccan couscous. Pearl couscous is sometimes labeled Israeli couscous. It, too, can be found in both whole wheat and regular forms.

Pearl couscous takes a little longer to take than Moroccan couscous, but it’s still relatively quick-cooking.

How to cook couscous

My go-to method of cooking Moroccan couscous is to boil water with salt and a small amount of either vegan butter or olive oil (this helps the couscous to remain fluffy and prevents clumping).

Once the water is boiling, I add the couscous, cover my pot, and remove it from heat. Within five minutes of resting, the couscous ought to be ready to fluff and use.

That’s it! It’s much less work than cooking many types of whole grains. Be sure to check the package of your couscous, just to make sure that five minutes is the right amount of time (it usually is).

To cook pearl couscous, you’ll simmer the couscous and water together, as you would cook other whole grains. However, the cooking time is still short: usually between eight and ten minutes.

Once again, check your couscous packaging to be sure of the right cooking time.

Couscous nutritional benefits

Couscous is a source of plant protein, along with dietary fiber. It has some iron, along with trace minerals that include magnesium and phosphorus.

A white bowl is resting on a marble surface. It's filled with a grain salad, vegetables, and herbs.

How to make carrot chickpea couscous salad

My favorite thing about this flavorful chickpea couscous salad is the fact that it’s super quick and easy to make.

Simply cook your couscous as directed. Mix the cooked, fluffed, and slightly cooled couscous with grated carrots, cooked chickpeas, chopped fresh herbs, dried currants, and seasonings.

That’s it! After everything has been tossed together, the salad will be ready to eat.

Chickpea couscous salad ingredients

Couscous

I prefer to use Moroccan couscous in the chickpea couscous salad. I like the way its fine texture contrasts with the round chickpeas and grated carrots. I also love the fast cooking time. You can use either regular or whole wheat couscous here.

If you prefer, you can also use Israeli couscous in the recipe. Follow package instructions to cook the couscous, but the rest of the process of preparing the salad will be the same.

Carrots

You’ll need about 1 heaping cup of grated carrot for the couscous salad.

Chickpeas

The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas, which is about what you’ll get from one 14.5-ounce can. Of course, you have the option to use scratch cooked chickpeas, as well.

Dried currants

I love the slight sweetness that dried currants add to the salad. If you enjoy sweet and savory flavor combinations less than I do, you can omit the currants. You can also replace them with golden or Thompson raisins.

Parsley & mint

I love the bright, refreshing quality that chopped parsley and mint leaves add to the couscous salad. If you’re missing either one of these herbs, you could use all parsley or all mint. You could also experiment with cilantro or basil in their place.

Seasonings

The seasonings for the carrot chickpea couscous salad are quite simple: lemon juice, red wine vinegar (you can use apple cider or white vinegar instead), ground cumin, salt, and olive oil.

If you like, you could add either minced garlic or finely chopped red onion to the salad. But I really like it just the way it is!

Make ahead and storage options

The couscous can be cooked up to three days before tossing the salad together and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. It can also be frozen for up to six weeks.

The salad itself will keep for up to three days in an airtight container in the fridge.

More pasta & grain lunch salads

There’s nothing like reaching into the fridge at lunchtime and finding a hearty, flavorful, nutritious salad that has already been meal prepped. I love meals like this one, and I rely on them often midday.

This chickpea couscous salad is a favorite. Here are some more:

An oval shaped, white serving dish is filled with a couscous and chickpea salad, made with herbs and carrot. It rests on white marble.
An oval, white ceramic dish is filled with a chickpea couscous salad. It rests on a white surface.
4.41 from 5 votes

Quick Chickpea Carrot Couscous Salad

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Cooling time 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry couscous (regular or whole wheat)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (divided)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 14.5-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup grated carrots (about 2 medium or large carrots, peeled and grated)
  • 3 tablespoons dried currants (substitute 1/4 cup golden or regular raisins)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Instructions

  • Bring 1 1/4 cups water, the 1 teaspoon olive oil, and the 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a saucepan. When the water is boiling, stir in the couscous quickly, then cover the pot. Remove the pot from heat and allow it to stand for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff the couscous with a fork. If you'd like a cold (but less quick) salad, allow the couscous to cool for 15 minutes before transferring it to the fridge in an airtight storage container and allowing it to cool completely, about 1-2 hours. Alternately, you can skip refrigeration altogether and make the salad with lukewarm couscous.
  • Mix the cooled or warm couscous and all remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Adjust the salt, oil, vinegar and lemon, and herbs to taste. Serve!

Notes

Leftover salad will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Two small plates serve a couscous salad that includes legumes and fresh herbs. They're resting on a white marble surface.

One of the nice things about this dish is that it’s versatile. You can dress it up or down as much as you need to. The chickpea couscous salad is nice with a green vegetable as an accompaniment, with some hot or cold soup, or on its own as a quick meal.

You can also use the leftovers as a side dish. I had some of it with my lemon pepper tempeh cubes and some greens the other night, and it was a really nice, well-rounded supper.

I hope that you’ll enjoy it in all sorts of ways, too!

xo

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Recipe Rating




    6 Comments
  1. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday and absolutely loved it. It’s easy to make and really satisfying (not to mention that it looks really pretty). I hope my five star rating is still showing. I had trouble getting the stars to work right.

    • The stars are showing, Pat! Thanks so much for the rating and for making the recipe. I’m really glad that you enjoyed it 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I made this wonderful salads minutes after I received the post. YUM!! This was one of the very best grain salads I’ve made or had ever! Super easy, I had everything on hand. Followed the recipe as written, but also added a handful of toasted pistachios because I had a ton and we love them. I also used the recommended swap for yellow raisins vs. the currants and soaked them in hot water for a bit to plump them up. Thanks Gena for another awesome recipe!

    • Delighted you enjoyed it, Beth! I should add a note to throw in pistachios, pine nuts, or sliced almonds. Good tip. 🙂