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Couscous Salad with Lime Basil Vinaigrette

32 reviews / 4.9 average

What a strange and delicious combination I’m about to feed you.

You’re looking at a beautiful, colorful, confetti-like bowl full of:

  • Couscous
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Black beans – but any kind of beans are great!
  • Spinach
  • Feta
  • Red Onion
  • Pistachios – because I love them! but any nuts / seeds, or no nuts / seeds also work
  • Lime basil vinaigrette

You think it might lean Mexican-inspired with the sweet potato black bean thing…. but then there’s feta and red onion… and some pistachios… and the lime basil vinaigrette is where things get pretty solidly quirky.

It’s so good, so nutritious (!!), and so nostalgic.

I used to make this salad all the time way back in the day, featuring a bottle of pre-made dressing, because that’s what my trusty five ingredient Cooking Light cookbook recommended. I was youthful and new to cooking and I loved easy recipes (still true, actually). Now I’m less youthful, more opinionated about things like making your own dressing, and ready for the still-easy but slightly more grown up version of this salad.

You still with me?

Ingredients in bowls for couscous salad.

Our dressing here is a punchy lime basil vinaigrette. Which is kind of a lot going on flavor-wise because lime and basil are both big flavors. But big flavors get two thumbs up from me.

You have alternate dressing options if you’d like to stay closer to home on this: cilantro lime vinaigrette (use this same method but swap basil for cilantro). lemon vinaigrette (look here).

Or… you can trust me and plow forward fearlessly into the land of basil-heavy summery tasting green dressing.

Basil lime vinaigrette in a food processor.
Basil lime vinaigrette in a food processor.

Take a taste – do you need more of something? Salt? Oil? Lime? Basil? Tweak it till you get it just right and do not panic if it’s very very flavorful.

This is going to soak in with a bunch of otherwise plain veggies so we need it to be BOSSY.

Couscous salad in a bowl before mixing.

Get all your stuff in a bowl, toss with dressing, salt and pepper, and muah. It’s summery, a little bit unexpected, and the best way to make lunch / veggies / nutrition / happiness all work together. If you’re hungry for more veggies (YUM) you’ll want to also add these recipes to your veggie rotation.

Couscous salad in a bowl.

Check Out Our Video For How To Make Couscous Salad:

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Couscous Salad with Lime Basil Vinaigrette


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x

Description

A bright, zippy, unexpectedly delicious couscous salad that’s packed with sweet potatoes, black beans, spinach, feta, and more – all tossed with a life-changing lime basil vinaigrette!


Ingredients

Scale

Couscous Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad

  • 3/4 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups baby spinach, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • half a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios (optional)

Lime Basil Vinaigrette

  • 1 bunch of fresh basil (1/2 cup packed)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • juice of 12 limes (to taste)
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup waterif needed

Instructions

  1. Pulse all dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth-ish.
  2. Cook couscous in 1 cup water, according to package directions. Fluff with a fork and cool.
  3. Place sweet potatoes in a skillet with about 1/2 cup water and a sprinkle of salt. Cover and simmer until fork-tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
  4. Toss all ingredients together with dressing, season with salt and pepper, and serve! (OR, store each ingredient individually for salads throughout the week.)

Equipment

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: couscous salad, meal prep salad, large batch salad, sweet potato salad, basil dressing, healthy lunch prep

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One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of magical black bean recipes. Check it out!

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Recipe rating

85 Comments

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Lauren

      That was so delicious!! I roasted the sweet potato in the oven. Will definitely make again!






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Melissa

      This looks really tasty. Could you substitute quinoa if you are trying to keep it gluten free?

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Lallie Pillay

    Thank you for sharing this refreshing salad n dressing recipe
    Really makes a difference






    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Kitty

      Lindsay, I made this salad today but used quinoa instead of couscous (because I didn’t have any on-hand), and I used Parmigiano Reggiano (because I didn’t have feta). It turned out sooooooooo fabulously and even Eddie likes it (although he pushes the sweet potatoes to the side). Such bold flavor with fresh basil and garlic. Kitty






  2. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Melinda Glasscock

    Served this last night to dinner guests having never made it before and they RAVED. I used Arugala as I had no Spinach. Roasted the potatoes instead of steaming just cuz I love roasted things. And guess what? I totally forgot to add the Feta!! They RAVED. ( I loved it too.) Thanks. I do love all you and your team are about .






  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Deborah

    Made this today but used Quinoa instead of couscous and I subbed sweet grape tomatoes for the sweet potatoes. It was a hit!






      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Jan

        This was so yummy!!! I’ve already made it twice this last week with quinoa and roasting the sweet potatoes. I think almost any veggie would be excellent in this. Thanks for the fantastic recipe!






  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    DNN

    I’m happy I went food shopping yesterday and striving for excellence to revamp my diet because eating right is the best health insurance. 🙂

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Sharon Murphy

    If made to eat throughout the week, is it okay to have at room temp? Of course, I’d keep it in the fridge until I leave for work, but would it be okay to eat at room temp or does it need heated up? I’ve never had couscous and recently bought some to try….this looks delicious though!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Karen

    Just made this meal prep style for lunches. I used quinoa instead of couscous, just because I had it on hand. I’m OBSESSED. Already planning to make it again next week.






  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Rachel

    I made this tonight with quinoa instead of couscous and a cilantro vinaigrette instead of basil… it was delicious!!






  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Steffi

    I’m looking forward to making this! Does anyone have any recommendations on how to turn this into a dinner (without adding meat to the salad itself)? I’m gathering recipes that will be great for warmer summer nights, and this sounds perfect. Now I just need something to pair with it to turn it into a full meal, and I’m at a loss!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      andrea d

      it really doesn’t need anything else…it is very filling and so delicious! maybe some watermelon to finish off the meal on a hot summer night…

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Steffi

        You’re right, this was super delicious, and filling! Perfect summer dinner. The basil lime vinaigrette is my new favorite dressing!






  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    andrea d

    I made this recipe and took it to a friends for dinner…let me say it was a HUGE HIT! I also made your green sauce and I decided to mix the two for my lunch this week…oh my goodness, it was a killer combination! now I cannot wait to try your white sauce! keep those recipes coming. Everything has been delish!






  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kay

    I substituted quinoa for the couscous. I’ve made this salad at least three times in the past couple of weeks.






  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Libby

    This is so so good! I used quinoa to make it gluten free, radishes in place of the red onion, and to reduce time, frozen sweet potatoes, steamed in bag. The flavors are so fresh, will definitely be making it again!






  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Melissa

    Oh my goodness. This was SO, SO good! Honestly, for the first time in my life, I made a dish for “Meatless Monday”, and I was not disappointed! My husband was skeptical, but this is now a new favorite in our house!! I’m a frequent flyer to this blog, and have been for years, keep up the fantastic work!!






  13. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Margaret

    Ok I tried this – I did not even have fresh basil- used dried and it was SO good! Everyone in my family loved it! Thank you!

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jen

    This salad was amazing! The whole family loved it and I will definitely make it again, definitely a crowd pleaser. It was even great as leftovers the next day!