I have really been into Israeli couscous lately.
I mean, I’ve always loved it. But in recent months, I can’t get enough of its chewy texture and versatility.
You can use it anything that you would use pasta for, and you can flavor it any which way you like. I love it.
While fall is still officially a week away, I’m embracing it all the way already. It’s only fitting that I would make a fall salad featuring my fave couscous, roasted butternut squash, sliced honeycrisp apples, toasted pumpkin seeds, and a tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette.
It’s meant to be!
What I love about this couscous salad is that it has a little bit of something for everyone. And while it features a lot of autumn ingredients and flavors, it’s not obnoxious about it. Like, it doesn’t taste like overly potent pumpkin spice. Hah.
It’s lightly spiced and a wonderful combination of sweet and savory.
The couscous acts like a vehicle to get all the other delicious flavors into our mouths. As fast as possible.
The first thing we do here is to roast off some butternut squash. You can certainly buy a whole squash and break it down yourself, but I almost always buy the pre-cut squash now. It’s readily available at most stores and saves about 10 minutes of work. I’d rather save my arm muscles for my actual workouts. WORTH IT.
We roast up said squash with some cinnamon to give it some warmth and more flavor. We cook the couscous in the meantime. AND whip up the easy vinaigrette. Trust me, you can do it all at once. The first two tasks are very hands off.
The vinaigrette is a simple mix of sweet and spiced apple cider, Dijon mustard, a touch of honey, apple cider vinegar, spices, and some olive oil. It’s SO good. Tangy and sweet with a punch from the mustard and vinegar.
It would be good on SO many things. I may just make it my go-to fall vinaigrette for all the things. Salads, roast chicken, pasta dishes like this one. You name it. It would work.
Once the squash and couscous are done cooking, it’s time to throw everything in a big bowl and call it a day. Really, it comes together that simply.
We add in baby arugula, dried cranberries, honeycrisp apples, and toasted pepitas (or any nut you like!). Drizzle over some of the dressing and give everything a gentle toss.
If you want, you could make this a full meal buy adding in some cooked chicken, cannellini beans or chickpeas, or even some crumbles of feta or goat cheese. I think the cheese would especially be fantastic. For this recipe, though, I wanted to provide you with the base. Make it your own!
The great thing about this dish (aside from how good it tastes) is that it can be eaten immediately while warm, at room temperature, or even chilled. It also gets better the longer it hangs out – just like anything else.
I actually made a big batch of this and divided it into smaller containers – Dan and I enjoyed it all week long as a quick and easy lunch or side to our dinner. It holds up really well in the fridge. Perfect for meal prep!
So, really, we’re winning on all fronts with this one. Quick, easy, delicious, seasonal, and make ahead.
What more could you need?
This Israeli Couscous with Roasted Squash & Apple Cider Vinaigrette has something for everyone! It’s savory-sweet, filled with fun textures and flavors, and features the best of seasonal fall produce. A tangy-sweet apple cider vinaigrette ties everything together. The best part is that this can be made ahead and served warm or chilled. It’s perfect for meal prep!
For the Salad:
- 2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups Israeli couscous
- 1 cup sliced honeycrisp apples
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pepitas, toasted (pecans or walnuts would also be great here)
- Additional salt and pepper, as needed
For the Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup apple cider
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Salad:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment. Add the cubed squash, spreading it out in an even layer. Drizzle over the olive oil, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Stir the squash on the pan until it is evenly coated in the oil and seasonings.
- Roast the squash for 15-20 minutes or until tender and caramelized in spots.
- Meanwhile, cook the couscous by heating a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add a tiny drizzle of oil to the pan and then add the couscous.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until it is lightly browned and toasted in spots, about 2 minutes.
- Add 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot.
- Simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is mostly absorbed and the couscous is fluffy and tender. Drain off any excess liquid.
For the Vinaigrette:
- While the squash is roasting and the couscous is cooking, make the vinaigrette by whisking the apple cider, mustard, vinegar, honey, and cinnamon together in a large measuring cup.
- Whisking constantly, slowly stream in the oil until the dressing is emulsified and thick. Season, to taste with salt and pepper.
To Assemble & Serve:
- Add the warm couscous to a large mixing bowl, drizzle over roughly ½ of the vinaigrette, and toss well to combine.
- Stir in the roasted squash, apples, baby arugula, cranberries, pepitas/nuts, and toss to combine.
- Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Drizzle with more dressing, if you prefer.
- Serve immediately while still warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: couscous salad
Keywords: couscous salad, Israeli couscous salad, fall couscous salad, harvest couscous salad, autumn couscous salad, couscous with squash and apples, apple cider vinaigrette