Herbed Tuna and Israeli Couscous Salad with Cumin, Coriander and Citrus

By • February 27, 2012 24 Comments

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Author Notes: Although I am late to appreciating good, oil packed tuna, I am making up for it by having it as a weekly standby. Add a hearty squeeze of fragrant lemon, some pasta and voilà, a simple but satisfying meal that my family loves. Recently I decided to add some preserved lemon I’d made over the holidays and was wooed by how much they reminded me of olives, but oh-so-much brighter (ok, I’m late to the preserved lemon party too)! While the basics of oil packed tuna, lemon and pasta are near flawless, I decided to see what would happen if I added some earthy spice, bright herbs and citrus in the form of fresh orange and preserved lemon and was very pleased with the results. It makes for a lovely light supper or satisfying lunch. gingerroot

Food52 Review: This tasty Isreali couscous salad is delicious and quicker than a flash to make! While the couscous is cooking, the rest of the recipe can be put together, so total time to prepare is about 20 minutes (not including cooling time). The layering of citrus flavors adds so much to the balance of the dish and the preserved lemon brightens the tuna (and entire dish) delightfully. I love spice with the best of them, however suggest cutting down the cayenne the first time you make it ...I tried the full teaspoon and it overwhelmed the dish a bit too much. As suggested, start with 1/2 teaspoon. This is one of my favorite new go-to lunch salads!thehappycook

Serves 6-8

  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 1 cup loosely packed Italian parsley leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
  • 1/2-1 teaspoons cayenne pepper (if you are not a fan of spice, start with 1/4 t or omit completely)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 juicy sweet orange
  • 1 250g (8.81 oz) can Ortiz Bonito white tuna
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • kosher salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons minced preserved lemon, rinsed, pulp and pith removed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Rough chop your herbs and place in a bowl.
  2. Toast cumin and coriander seed in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, tossing pan as you go to prevent burning. Transfer all whole spices to a mortar and pestle. Turn off heat but return skillet to burner. Carefully add olive oil to hot skillet (beware of sputtering).
  3. Crush whole spices into a powder. Transfer hot oil to a large serving bowl, followed by crushed spices and cayenne. Set bowl aside.
  4. Heat water and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and cover. When water is boiling, add Israeli couscous and cook for 8-10 minutes until tender and liquid is absorbed. Drain in a colander and shake to remove excess water.
  5. Open tuna and drain off most of the oil. Using a fork, add tuna to bowl with spiced oil.
  6. Cut orange in half and squeeze a quarter of the orange into tuna mixture, reserving remaining quarter.
  7. Fold couscous into bowl using a spatula. Follow with chopped herbs. Squeeze remaining quarter orange over salad and combine. Add preserved lemon and lemon juice and fold again.
  8. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary, adding remaining T of preserved lemon if desired. Cover and refrigerate to let flavors meld. Allow salad to come to room temperature and mix before serving. Enjoy. Note: Can be made one day ahead.

More Great Recipes: Fish & Seafood|Entrees|Salads|Fish

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Comments (24) Questions (1)


over 1 year ago Marisa

I don't have Israeli couscous but I'm definitely making this for lunch tomorrow with quinoa instead. Thanks!


10 months ago gingerroot

Thanks for your comment, Marisa. I've made it with quinoa for my husband, who has celiac disease. I hope you enjoyed it!


about 2 years ago dymnyno

Sounds delicious and perfect for lunch today.


about 2 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, dymnyno! I hope it worked out for you.


over 2 years ago Amy Ghiz

What a great recipe, thanks! We heated leftovers, mounded on a little pile of dressed arugula, and topped the whole thing with a poached egg for easy weeknight dinner. Awesome!


over 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks for letting me know! I'm happy you enjoyed it...mmm, I bet it was delicious with your additions.


over 2 years ago pamelalee

I made this easy salad last summer and loved it even though I used lemon zest in place of the preserved lemon. Now that the video on how-to preserve lemons was just posted on the site, I'm ready to give it a try.


over 2 years ago gingerroot

So glad to hear that, pamelalee! The preserved lemon provides a flavorful punch of citrus that I hope you'll enjoy.


over 2 years ago Lisa Curnutt

Looks Great. I will try!


over 2 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, Lisa! I hope you enjoy it.


over 3 years ago linenlady

Great recipe! I didn't have couscous so i used orzo. Also added pine nuts!


over 3 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, linenlady! So glad you enjoyed it. Orzo is a perfect sub and pine nuts a great addition. I almost added toasted sliced almonds when I was putting the salad together.


over 3 years ago Fairmount_market

This sounds lovely! I'm inspired.


over 3 years ago gingerroot

Thank you Fairmount_market! Sorry for the belated reply...somehow I missed your comment.


over 3 years ago Sagegreen

I love your flavor profile, as usual!


over 3 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, Sagegreen! I started with the contrast of regular lemon juice with tuna and decided to incorporate a variety of different citrus notes - from the sweet orange, to the salty, bright preserved lemon, to the fresh green notes of the herbs and finally the bright but earthy whole spices. The cayenne provides a spicy punch.


over 3 years ago arielleclementine

sounds completely perfect! beautiful!


over 3 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, arielleclementine! That means a lot coming from you. : )


over 3 years ago TiggyBee

Yum!!! I'm happy to say, I was needing a recipe for my homemade lemon preserves!! : )


over 3 years ago gingerroot

Yay! I love my preserved lemons and have been putting them in everything lately. I hope you enjoy this if you give it a whirl, let me know what you think.


over 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Genius! Never thought of cous cous with the tuna, love the herbs so fresh and delicious.


over 3 years ago gingerroot

Aw, thanks, sdebrango - you are too kind. Actually, this was my first time using Israeli couscous and it definitely won't be my last. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you try it.


over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This looks absolutely wonderful.


over 3 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, boulangere!