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Retro Recipe: Couscous Salad with Zucchini, Lemon and Ricotta Salata

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This past weekend, when I was looking for something to serve with striped bass in a tomato, saffron and grappa sauce, I made a new couscous that Merrill and I had picked up at Union Market in Brooklyn. Les Moulins Mahjoub is hand-rolled and sun-dried in Tunisia and comes in a spiffy jar. When we bought it, I remember thinking that we’d been seduced by packaging. But the couscous inside did not disappoint – in fact, it made me realize I’d never had really good couscous before. The individual beads are irregularly shaped and larger than most packaged couscous, and they remain firm after steaming. The best part is the couscous’s flavor, which is nutty, even a little flinty. The obvious comparison is to expensive dried pasta, which I like, but which I can’t always justify buying when I measure it against a great, reasonably-priced brand like de Cecco. Having cooked with Les Moulins Mahjoub, I can’t justify buying the cheap stuff. A 1.1-pound jar is $9 at Cube Marketplace.

Couscous Salad with Zucchini, Lemon and Ricotta Salata

  • 2 cups cooked couscous
  • 1 cup minced zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/ 4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/ 3 cup crumbled ricotta salata

In a mixing bowl, fold together the couscous, zucchini, shallot, basil and lemon zest. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and stir to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the ricotta salata.

Serves 4.

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