This Mediterranean couscous bowls recipe is a fast weeknight dinner! It features quick-cooking couscous with chickpeas and a creamy tahini sauce.
One of our top goals when we create a recipe is to find that elusive intersection between healthy, delicious, and doable. It’s simple to find recipes with one or two of the three, right? Healthy recipes that taste terrible. Delicious recipes that are too complex. Easy and delicious recipes that are terrible for you.
Alex and I could make gourmet or foodie or complex recipes. But really: we just want to feed you dinner. And we think you’ll like this newest easy dinner recipe: this Mediterranean couscous recipe! It’s a simple, seasonal bowl meal, covered in a creamy tahini sauce. And for some reason, this one tastes even better than all the rest. I dare say might be one of the best vegetarian recipes we’ve made. (It’s plant-based, too.) Serve it as a main dish dinner salad or easy lunch recipe and it will get rave reviews: we promise!
Video: How to make this couscous recipe
Is couscous a grain?
What is couscous made of? Contrary to what you might think, couscous is not a whole grain. It’s actually tiny balls of pasta! Because it looks a lot like quinoa or millet, couscous is often mistaken as a whole grain. But it’s actually pasta! The reason we chose couscous for this Mediterranean bowl recipe is that it is extremely quick to cook. It takes just 5 minutes. That’s it!
If you’d rather have a whole grain in this bowl, you could try brown rice, white rice, bulgur wheat, or quinoa. Bulgur wheat would be a great choice because it’s also quick to cook and used in many Meditereranean recipes.
How to make couscous
Couscous could not be easier to cook! We use it for our fastest recipes because it takes no time at all. Here’s all you have to do to make couscous:
- Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium pot.
- Add 1 cup couscous and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring it to a boil.
- Once boiling, immediately remove from the heat. Cover and let it stand for 5 minutes.
And that’s it! It literally could not be easier. In this recipe, we seasoned it again with a drizzle of olive oil, another 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and finely chopped parsley. It’s also fantastic with a squeeze of lemon: see our Quick Shrimp Couscous recipe.
Making a meal in a bowl (dinner salad!)
What’s the inspiration behind this Mediterranean couscous bowl recipe? Well, Pinterest. Like, the real Pinterest! Yes, Alex and I stopped at Pinterest Headquarters in San Francisco on our book tour for Pretty Simple Cooking! We got to teach Pinterest employees how to make pizza dough using the recipe from the book. It was an absolute blast! While we were there, we had a lunch of couscous bowls in their cafeteria. Right away, we knew we wanted to recreate a homemade version!
How to make this couscous recipe into a bowl meal? Bowl meals, or main dish dinner salads, are super simple to throw together. You’ll want to remember two things when making a dinner salad. First, maximize contrasts: use a variety of flavors, textures, and colors in your bowl. Next, use protein and whole grains (or couscous) to keep it filling. Only veggies, leafy greens and dressing will leave you hungry an hour later.
Here are the main components that make this couscous recipe into a main dish dinner:
- Greens: Start with a good base of greens. We like to use mixed baby greens.
- Couscous: Here we’ve used whole wheat couscous because it cooks so fast! You can use any whole grain.
- Chickpeas: Use canned or even better, Instant Pot chickpeas! It takes less than 1 hour to cook dried beans in a pressure cooker, which saves a lot of time versus cooking them on the stove top. If you prefer, substitute Seasoned Lentils instead.
- Veggies: Here we’ve used fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Feel free to use any veggies you’d like!
- Tahini sauce: Our favorite sauce for bowl meals? This Best Tahini Sauce! It’s super flavorful and simple to whisk together. Tahini is a sesame seed paste that’s available at most grocery stores. It’s used for homemade hummus, and there are so many more things to use it for: like this sauce!
This Mediterranean couscous recipe is…
Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant based, dairy free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.Print
This Mediterranean bowl couscous recipe is a fast weeknight dinner! It features quick-cooking couscous with chickpeas and a creamy tahini sauce.
For the chickpeas (or substitute Seasoned Lentils)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (try Instant Pot Chickpeas)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the couscous
- 1 cup whole wheat couscous (substitute cooked quinoa for gluten-free)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
For the bowl
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 8 cups salad greens
- 1 recipe Best Tahini Sauce
- Make the chickpeas: If using dry chickpeas, cook them using our Instant Pot chickpeas method (in under 1 hour!) or our Dutch oven method. If using canned, drain and rinse them. In a medium bowl, stir them together with the olive oil, cumin, and kosher salt.
- Make the couscous: In a medium pot, bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil. Add couscous and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. When done, stir in the olive oil, another 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and the parsley.
- Make the dressing: Go to Best Tahini Sauce.
- Assemble the bowls: Peel and chop the cucumber. Slice the tomatoes in half. In a large shallow bowl, place the greens, then top with couscous, chickpeas, cucumber, and tomatoes. Drizzle with tahini dressing (about 2 tablespoons per bowl). Serve immediately. Leftovers stay in the refrigerator for a few days: keep all components separate for maximum freshness.
If you have especially hungry eaters, you could 1.5 or double the chickpeas or couscous, or serve it alongside pita and hummus.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: Mediterranean, Buddha Bowl, Nourish Bowl, Chickpeas, Couscous, Vegan, Vegetarian, Plant Based, Vegan Recipes, Healthy, Healthy Recipes
Looking for more vegan recipes?
Outside of these chickpea couscous bowls, here a few more vegan recipes you might enjoy:
- Best Stir Fry Vegetables with Teriyaki
- Perfect Vegan Black Bean Burger
- Cauliflower and Tomato Coconut Curry
- Instant Pot Thai Sweet Potatoes with Peanut Drizzle
- “Can’t Believe It’s Vegan” Spaghetti & Meatballs
- Thai Salad with Peanut Sauce
- Stress Reducing Avocado and Quinoa Bowl
- Moroccan Cauliflower Soup
- Broccoli and Turmeric Yellow Rice Bowls
- Our Best Vegan Pizza
- Vegan Buddha Bowl with Tahini Sauce
- Loaded Quinoa Tacos
- Veggie Burrito Bowls with Cauliflower Rice (sans eggs)
- Easy Vegetarian Recipes for Beginners
- Best Healthy Dinner Recipes
- What Should I Make for Dinner?
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.