For a quick weekday lunch or a lingering, delicious, filling side for a meal, this Loaded Lemon Asparagus Couscous Salad with Tomatoes has it all. Even if you are not a “salad person”, I can guarantee you, you’ll lick your plate clean after this and ask for seconds. This salad has fresh, tangy tomatoes, earthy, roasted asparagus, salty feta, flavorsome couscous and a burst of lemony goodness. And the dressing is rich yet simple with a hint of sweetness and together it packs a punch. It is a wholesome meal that can be quickly whipped up.
And the Loaded Lemon Asparagus Couscous Salad with Tomatoes lends itself to so many alternatives, you can use rice, pasta or quinoa, you can replace honey with maple syrup, you can add meat, protein and vegetables of your choice. The loaded salad can transform itself to whatever you need it to be. A light, spring, salad; a hearty feast or a simple family meal. It is easy, family-friendly and allergy-friendly. You can add nuts, dried fruits or spice and give it little tweaks to adjust your mood. It is a bowl of goodness that tastes like sunshine and summer. So here is the Loaded Lemon Asparagus Couscous Salad with Tomatoes.
- 10 oz of couscous
- 1 pound asparagus trimmed
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
- ½ cup red onions finely chopped
- 1/3 cup feta
- Parsley for garnish
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Black ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Season the washed and trimmed asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a large baking pan
- Bake till tender and slightly browned- about 10-15 minutes
- Remove it from the oven and once cooled, cut into small 2-inch pieces
- Cook the couscous according to package instructions and set aside
- Place the couscous in a bowl and add the roasted asparagus, grape tomatoes and onions. Mix well.
- Mix all the dressing ingredients together and pour over the couscous salad.
- Now add the crumbled feta and mix gently.
- Garnish with freshly ground pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and parsley.
Tips and Tricks
- Ensure the asparagus is not too thick, it takes longer to cook
- Space the asparagus well in the baking pan
- Alternatively, the asparagus can also be boiled in water, about 10 minutes.
- You can use regular couscous or Israeli couscous
- You can also cook the couscous in chicken or vegetable stock for some added flavor
The Loaded Lemon Asparagus Couscous Salad with Tomatoes can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. Avoid adding the dressing if you are planning on refrigerating. Add the dressing only to what you are eating, keep the rest aside. You can make fresh dressing if you want or make a big batch of dressing and store and use as and when you need it.
You can also make this salad ahead of time. Cut and store the ingredients separately, as well as the dressing and store in the fridge. Combine together when serving. Shake the refrigerated dressing before use.
Israeli couscous is a lot like pasta but made from roasted durum, semolina or whole wheat flour. The best thing about couscous is that it cooks fast, about 10 minutes or so, especially if you are using boxed couscous like I did. Couscous has a chewy, nutty flavor. It is often interchangeable in recipes with quinoa or brown rice.
First, ensure you are buying fresh asparagus stalks. Asparagus shouldn’t be soggy or misshapen. When asparagus is cooked it is tender but still has a bit of a bite to it. If it is hard and chewy it is undercooked, if it is mushy it is overcooked.
Asparagus can be boiled in water or roasted in a pan or in the oven. Trim the thick woody part of the asparagus, the rest can be eaten.
Couscous is very similar to rice in its calorific value and glycemic index. It has marginally more proteins and vitamins. While it is not significantly healthier than rice, it has a small advantage over rice.
- Couscous: You can use pearl or Israeli couscous, Moroccan couscous, regular couscous. You can also use boxed couscous, which comes with additional flavoring. Besides the numerous couscous options, the Loaded Lemon Asparagus Couscous Salad with Tomatoes can also be made with quinoa or brown rice. For an even more loaded up variation, use a small pasta instead.
- Tomatoes: fresh, ripe grape tomatoes give the salad an amazing flavor, but you can also go with Roma tomatoes as well as sun-dried tomatoes. You can also replace the tomatoes with red peppers.
- Asparagus: The asparagus gives this salad that extra crunch and flavor and it is not a taste easily replicated, but you can use cucumber instead. It gives the salad an extra lightness and crunch. You can also use zucchini in a pinch.
- Cheese: I think the saltiness of feta makes it the perfect cheese for salads. Parmesan or any goat cheese will also work.
- Lemon: Use fresh lemons for the garnish, it is full of zest and bright flavors and works well with the asparagus and the feta. Every spoonful is bursting with flavor.
- Extras: Chickpeas are a good addition to the Loaded Lemon Asparagus Couscous Salad with Tomatoes. You can use canned chickpeas, just drain and rinse. Chicken also works well in this salad. And I sometimes like to add raisins or craisins to it. If I am looking for more crunchy greens, lettuce or arugula complement this salad.
- Garnish: Parsley, pepper and lemon are all the garnish you need. You can use cilantro instead of parsley. You can add chili flakes if you want a bit of heat.
- Dressing: You can replace the honey with maple syrup and can use powdered garlic instead of minced.
The Loaded Lemon Asparagus Couscous Salad with Tomatoes can be the main course or a side. If it is a side, serve with some spicy chicken or herbed salmon. Otherwise, the salad pairs well with Roasted Brussel Sprouts and glazed carrots. It can also be served with pita bread, hummus and kebabs or falafels.