Couscous Tuna Salad

3 Comments 22 March 2013

I’m not the biggest fan of canned tuna, so when this recipe piqued the ‘ole radar I was more than a little surprised. But I do love me some couscous, especially the pearl variety, or Israeli couscous as it’s also called. Going down the list of ingredients was like a mini convention of Yes. Too, this just seemed like such a good spring-like thing to try. We made it at the same time as this week’s earlier post and thought the two looked mighty nice together.

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Hello, Easy Recipe, we are ready for you!

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And there it is, the pasta star of this interesting little salad. I wasn’t planning to buy a tri-colored variety, but that’s all they had at the store that day. It actually worked out for the best. Gives it all that much more colorful texture!

This is the only cooking portion of the recipe, and couscous is very easy to cook.

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Much of the flavor comes from lemon zest and juice, two of our favorite things when it comes to this kind of cooking. The easy kind. The refreshing kind.

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When you’ve got the couscous going, all you really need to do is assemble. The tuna is simply drained of the oil (this is all that’s meant by Italian tuna – tuna that’s packed in oil), flaked into a bowl and congrats, you’ve started a salad!

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Olive oil, the other essential part of the dressing. Incidentally, you don’t even mix the dressing for this one prior. Just dump in the individual ingredients for it like everything else.

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Next, some chopped, roasted red bell peppers. Yummm.

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OK, don’t panic, we’re not putting anything questionable in there. Those are the oil-cured black olives. I have to admit, while they were tasty, this is the one part I think you could go with regular olives if you wished. These are extra briny and with all the other oil being used in this recipe, I think it could go without oil-cured olives and still be just as good if not better.

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So just give aaaalll those lovely things a stir to incorporate them, let them get to know one another, etc.

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Now it’s time to add the cooked couscous. This is gonna be good!

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After another stirring to help the couscous mingle, the last addition is sliced green onions.

That’s it! How easy is that? Easy enough to let loose a Muahahaaa cackle cuz you’re almost ready to eat some foods and there was barely any effort involved. The mixture does sit, covered for a bit to let all the flavors come together, but this means you can run and change into normal people clothes before people arrive to scarf it all down.

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There is a ton of flavor going on in this salad. It’s one of the more unique pasta salads I’ve tried and it is mmmm mmm good. While making and then enjoying it, we thought it would be the perfect salad for a light lunch with friends or an addition to a baby or wedding shower menu. Heck, it could even be a side dish for an easy breezy salad and sandwich night. Whatever the reason, enjoy!

Couscous Tuna Salad

from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust by Ina Garten

Prep Time: 15 minutes     Cook Time: 15     Level: Easy     Serves: 6-8

  • 2 cups Israeli couscous (10 to 12 ounces)
  • 2 (7-ounce) cans or jars Italian tuna, drained and flaked
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 cup pitted, oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped (3 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, medium-diced (4 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped scallions (6-8 scallions)
  • 1/4 cup julienned fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add the couscous and reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pot and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until the couscous is just tender. (I pull the pot halfway off the heat.) Drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, combine the tuna, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, olives, red peppers, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in a large bowl. Pour the hot couscous into the mixture and stir well. Cover and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, stir in the scallions, basil, juice of the 1/2 lemon, and 1 more teaspoon of salt. Taste for seasonings and serve warm or at room temperature.


As much as I enjoy the roasted peppers, it occurred to me to try sliced grape or cherry tomatoes in this next time, leaving the peppers out since that’s a lot of stuff in that salad already. The tomatoes seem like another good option.

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- who has written 347 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and Day Job Do-er, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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3 Comments so far

  1. jmc says:

    I’ve been pondering what to make with the Israeli couscous in my pantry. I skipped the olives and capers, used grape tomatoes and two types of peppers instead — delicious. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

    • KMont says:

      Skipping those saltier items sounds like a good idea and I’m glad to hear the tomatoes worked good for you. I’ll be trying that next time. 🙂


  1. Couscous Tuna Salad – smart cookie - June 15, 2016

    […] Recipe adapted from Full Fork Ahead. […]

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