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Recipe | Warm Cauliflower & Israeli Couscous Salad

Warm Cauliflower & Israeli Couscous Salad Recipe

Warm Cauliflower & Israeli Couscous Salad
Tomorrow I’m going to be posting about some of the staples I keep in my pantry and how I use them to make quick, easy meals. (In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to post more useful things like this in addition to recipes. Have any ideas for a post you’d like to see? Let me know!) But here’s a little spoiler for you: one of those staples that I always have on hand is couscous.

Israeli Couscous
I love regular couscous, but lately I’ve been using more Israeli couscous. It’s larger than traditional couscous and has more of a pasta-like texture to it. You can use it in place of regular couscous (although they’re cooked differently, so be sure to follow the instructions on the package!) and it also makes a good substitute for pasta in a pasta salad (chilled or warm).

Last year I posted a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower & Kalamata Olives and I’ve been trying to work it into a pasta salad-like recipe for a few months now. You know how sometimes you make a recipe and it is so close to being good, but there’s always something a little bit off about it? That’s what kept happening with this one. And then summer came and it seemed kind of silly to continue working on a cauliflower recipe, so I set it aside until fall.

Cauliflower & Olives
Now that it’s (sort of almost) fall, I decided to revisit this recipe again and this time I thought I’d use Israeli couscous. Pasta didn’t work and whole-wheat couscous was a disaster, so I was hoping that Israeli couscous would be the solution. And it was! The Israeli couscous doesn’t soak up all of the lemon vinaigrette the way the whole-wheat couscous did (which made the salad way too dry!), but it soaks up more of it than pasta. The lemony dressing adds a bright note of citrus to the otherwise earthy combination of cauliflower and olives.


Warm Cauliflower & Israeli Couscous Salad

Warm Cauliflower & Israeli Couscous Salad Recipe

A warm couscous salad made with roasted cauliflower and kalamata olives.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • olive oil mister or cooking spray
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1/2 c. pitted and halved kalamata olives
  • 1 c. Israeli (pearl) couscous
  • 1/4 c. chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • salt + pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray rimmed baking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray. Place cauliflower florets on baking sheet; spray with additional cooking spray and sprinkle with salt to taste. Bake for 20 minutes, then stir in kalamata olives. Cook for 15-20 minutes more or until cauliflower is beginning to turn golden brown and olives have started to shrivel.
  3. While cauliflower is roasting, bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in Israeli couscous; return to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until water is absorbed. (Keep an eye on the couscous as it cooks–if you overcook it, it will stick to the bottom of the saucepan!)
  4. Combine cauliflower and olives, couscous, and parsley in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Pour dressing over salad and stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

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  • Reply
    September 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I have never thought to combine cauliflower and olives. I can see how roasting it would help the flavors blend really well and the lemon just compliment it all. Yum. I’m going to try this with garlic and swap out the couscous with spaghetti squash.

    • Reply
      September 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      I make roasted cauliflower with kalamata olives & a squirt of lemon juice as a side all the time–it’s paleo-friendly! 😀

      • Reply
        Laura Fortier
        February 11, 2017 at 12:36 pm

        Kiersten, I love cauliflower and couscous but DESPISE olives! Any other suggestions as to what I could add to this salad?

        • Reply
          February 12, 2017 at 11:29 am

          Hi Laura! You could use all kinds of things instead of the olives! Some roasted red peppers would be nice, or for a little sweetness maybe try some dried fruit.

  • Reply
    September 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    I think I’ve only tried israeli couscous once and I wasn’t sure what to think about it…I found the texture weird at first but I actually liked the chewiness and it was pretty fun to eat! Plus it looks gorgeous in this salad – I love how you kept the recipe simple with ingredients that would really go well together!

    • Reply
      September 18, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      It is a little weird–it reminds me of something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Tapioca maybe? But I love it!

      • Reply
        September 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm

        Yes, it does remind me of tapioca!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I’ve only had the smaller couscous, but I want to try the Israeli variety and I like the addition of cauliflower. Bookmarking this one!

    • Reply
      September 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      You should definitely try it–I always loved regular couscous, but after trying Israeli couscous, the regular kind started to seem a little boring. 😉

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ henry happened
    September 18, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Ok, now i’m totally craving roasted cauliflower 🙂 I always forget to do cool things with it like add it to couscous (you are so darn smart!). As far as ideas go, I just saw a guide to lettuce in a magazine and that seemed super handy!

    • Reply
      September 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      That is on my to-do list! I might wait until spring for that though, but I’m thinking I’m going to do one on fall greens…

  • Reply
    Heidi @ Food Doodles
    September 18, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I’ve been looking for a way to use my Israeli couscous and this looks great. I need to get more creative with it 🙂

  • Reply
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen
    September 19, 2012 at 3:28 am

    I just love the combination of roasted cauliflower and olives!

  • Reply
    September 21, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Your recipes are the BEST thing for my weekly meal planning! Putting these ingredients on the grocery list to make this next week. Thanks!

    • Reply
      September 24, 2012 at 10:41 am

      Thank you–I hope you like it! 😀

  • Reply
    Notorious Spinks
    September 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    This looks so good. Next month I’ll be transitioning to a yeast free diet for four weeks. I’ll be sure to stop and see what recipes you have that I can try. I like this one but I don’t think I can have citrus while on the diet.

    • Reply
      September 24, 2012 at 10:16 am

      Oh, I have thought about doing that too! You’ll have to let me know how it goes. My problem is that I have no willpower when it comes to cutting bread out of my diet…

  • Reply
    sarah @ two tarts
    October 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    making this for dinner right now. smells good!!

    • Reply
      October 2, 2012 at 10:14 am

      I hope it tasted good too! 😀

  • Reply
    January 9, 2013 at 7:03 am

    This is so yummy! Don’t know whether you used frozen cauliflower but I did and it was delicious! Thank you! Loving your blog! 🙂

    • Reply
      January 9, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      Nope, I didn’t use frozen cauliflower, but I’m glad to hear that works out too! 🙂

  • Reply
    May 22, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Have you ever tried this with colored cauliflower?

    • Reply
      May 26, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      No, I haven’t, but I’m sure it would work just fine!

  • Reply
    Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie
    August 7, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    I went through a stage of using Israeli couscous ALL the time but recently haven’t used it at all! Thanks for the reminder to restock and start using it again!

    • Reply
      August 7, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      It’s so good, right?! I just had it for dinner tonight with parsley pesto and oven-roasted tomatoes. 😀

  • Reply
    November 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Made this tonight and it was Scrummy. Added feta and my little boy (3) said ‘this is so yummy I’m going to eat it all up’. That NEVER happens, so thank you!

    • Reply
      November 10, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      Well, that is high praise! 😀 Thanks for the feedback!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Very unusual combination (for me), but it works so well! I didn’t have couscous on hand, so I used orzo. Loved it!

  • Reply
    September 20, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Wonderful recipe ! I also tried using garlic infused extra virgin olive oil and it was delicious. Also chopped walnuts add a crunch if you don’t have nut allergies

  • Reply
    December 27, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Invasive made this a few times with quinoa instead of couscous and its very filling. I also use a lot more lemon juice. So yummy!

    • Reply
      December 29, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      I’m glad you enjoy the recipe!

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