Couscous, herbs, tomato salad with scallops. Sometimes you come across a recipe with your name written all over it, and you must try it.

This Couscous, herbs, and tomato salad with scallops is an incredibly refreshing meal that is also full of flavor.

The combination of textures and flavors in this dish will leave you wanting more.

Couscous, Herbs, Tomatoes Salad with Scallops

Why you will love this recipe

Easy to prepare – within 30 minutes, your dinner is on the table to be enjoyed.

The perfect balance of all the flavors – once you take your first bite of the couscous, you will be in love and happy you made it.

The couscous recipe can be prepared by itself – I love this couscous so much that I also enjoy it with roasted chicken or a light meal all to itself.

What is Couscous, Herbs, and Tomato Salad with Scallops?

As some of you may remember, last summer, I spent a week in Paris and was introduced to the beautiful work and world of  Yotam Ottolenghi.

My life has not been the same since. Mediterranean, simple, and complex cooking will make you want to try a new recipe daily. 

Each recipe is so easy to execute, but it introduces you, in this case, me, to new flavors.

Flavors that are not in my French or Italian cooking repertoire. I look forward to seeing the results of the blends he uses with his recipes.

This recipe is an adaptation from his cookbook, Ottolenghi Simple, if you do not have one, I highly recommend you treat yourself to it. You will not regret it.

Couscous, Herbs, Tomatoes Salad with Scallops on a white plate

What is Couscous?

Couscous is a staple food, much like pasta, that originates from North Africa.

It’s traditionally made from semolina or hard durum wheat that’s been crushed. The granules are then steamed until they become fluffy and light, perfect for soaking up the flavors of your favorite sauces or stews. 

Couscous is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from salads and sides to main courses.

It’s a quick-cooking and nutritious grain, rich in protein and offering a slightly nutty flavor.

Couscous forms a delightful base for many meals, pairing exceptionally well with vegetables, herbs, spices, and proteins.

Recipe tips 

I call this recipe a festival of flavors. Each one plays a role in this recipe.

  • You can make this couscous salad the day before by cooking the couscous, onions, and raisin mix in advance. Please bring it to room temperature before adding the tomatoes to it.
  • The cinnamon, cardamom, and coriander cooked with couscous and onions bring out this spicy hide-and-seek with your palate. There to be noticed,  allowing you to taste every bite of your food by having each flavor enhance the other.
  • Then, the fresh mint and cilantro, each balancing each other and bringing a fresh, cooling feeling to the dish. The lemon zest and juice bring out each flavor.
Couscous, Herbs, Tomatoes Salad with Scallops

Equipment needed

Bowls – to mix your spices and prepare the couscous

Large skillet – to sautee your vegetables and cook your scallops

Serving plate – to present your finished dish

Cooking tools – to help you with your cooking

A Chef Giangi Pick
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Iron Handle Skillet, 11.75"
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02/19/2024 03:40 am GMT

Cooking tips and step-by-step instructions to create this excellent couscous with scallops dinner

  • In a small bowl, mix together all the spices: cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, and black pepper, and set aside. Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with half of the spice mix, ¾ teaspoon salt, and a couple of dashes of pepper, then pour in the boiling water. Stir and cover the bowl tightly with foil and set aside for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and fluff the couscous with a fork. Set aside to cool.
  • Put 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large nonstick skillet and place over high heat. Once hot, add the tomatoes and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times. Cook until they start to brown and split open. Remove from the pan, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and set aside with any juices.
  • Wipe the skillet clean, then add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and return to medium-high heat. Add the onions, the remaining spice mixture, 1/8 teaspoon salt and fry for 10-12 minutes, stirring, until golden brown and soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the raisins, and set aside to cool.
  • Once the couscous has cooled slightly, transfer it to a large bowl. Add the onion and raisin mix and stir. Add the cilantro, mint, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a generous grind of pepper and mix gently.
  • Transfer to a serving platter, top with the tomatoes, and serve.
  • Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and seat the scallops for 3 minutes on each side. The scallops should be golden on the outside and springy to the touch.
Couscous, Herbs, Tomatoes Salad with Scallops close up

What is the best way to prepare scallops?

I prepared seared scallops to enjoy alongside this couscous, herbs, and tomato salad. However, poultry, lamb, grilled meat, and vegetables would also be perfect.

Seared scallops are favored for their delicate flavor and tender, almost buttery texture. This method involves quickly cooking the scallops over high heat until they form a golden-brown crust while still remaining tender and juicy on the inside.

It’s a simple technique that highlights the scallop’s natural sweetness. 

In contrast, there are other methods of cooking scallops, such as grilling, baking, and poaching.

Grilled scallops have a smoky flavor, and the high heat allows the outside to caramelize while the inside remains tender.

Baking scallops is a gentler method that involves cooking them in a hot oven. This can be an excellent option for scallop dishes with a sauce or other ingredients.

Poached scallops are cooked gently in liquid, usually a flavorful broth, resulting in a delicate flavor and texture. 

Each method has merits and can be used depending on the recipe and personal taste preference.

Couscous, Herbs, Tomatoes Salad with Scallops on a serving plate

Substitutes and additions

If you don’t have all the ingredients on hand or want to adapt the recipe to suit your dietary restrictions or flavor preferences, there are various substitutions and additions you can consider. 

  • Couscous: If you’re gluten intolerant or looking for a healthier alternative, quinoa or brown rice could serve as suitable substitutions for couscous. They both have a similar texture and cook in a comparable amount of time.
  • Olive oil: If you don’t have olive oil, you can use other oil like sunflower or safflower. Remember that the oil’s flavor may alter the dish’s taste.
  • Spices: You can use ground cumin if cardamom or coriander isn’t available. It won’t taste the same, but it will still provide a warm, earthy flavor.
  • Raisins: Dried cranberries or chopped dates could substitute for raisins, offering a slightly different yet still delightful sweetness.
  • Almonds: Add some chopped almonds to bring a bit of crunchiness to this dish.

You could also add some toasted almonds or walnuts for a crunchy texture.

If you like a bit of heat, a pinch of red pepper flakes could elevate the flavor profile.

Remember, the beauty of cooking is the ability to make a dish your own; feel free to experiment and modify it to suit your palate.

Couscous, Herbs, Tomatoes Salad with Scallops on a black plate

Storage 

This couscous salad tastes even better the next day when all the flavors have had a chance to meld together. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. 

Freezer:

While you can freeze this couscous salad, it’s worth noting that the texture of the couscous may change slightly upon defrosting. Freeze in an airtight container and consume within a month for maximum freshness. Remember to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Make it ahead of time:

If you are looking to make this dish ahead of time, you can cook the couscous and onion-raisin mixture the day before. Store them separately in the fridge and assemble the salad a couple of hours before you’re ready to serve.

Be sure to bring the couscous to room temperature before adding the tomatoes, herbs, and lemon. Add the seared scallops just before serving to ensure they remain fresh and succulent.

couscous salad with seared scallops on a white plate

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use frozen scallops for this recipe?

Absolutely! If using frozen scallops, make sure to thaw them thoroughly before searing to ensure even cooking. Pat them dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture for a nice sear.

Can I make this recipe vegan?

You can replace the scallops with tofu, tempeh, or even a hearty vegetable like portobello mushrooms. Adjust the cooking time accordingly, as these will not require the same cooking time as the scallops.

What kind of couscous should I use?

This recipe calls for Moroccan couscous, the smallest variety that cooks quickly. If you only have Israeli (pearl) couscous on hand, you can use it, but keep in mind it will take longer to cook and has a slightly chewier texture.

Can I use other herbs instead of cilantro and mint?

Yes, you can substitute the herbs with what you have on hand or prefer. Fresh parsley and dill would work well in this dish. Just remember that herbs have distinct flavors, so the change will alter the dish’s final flavor profile.

How can I tell when the scallops are cooked?

Scallops are cooked when they have a golden-brown crust on the outside and are still slightly translucent in the center. Overcooking can make them rubbery, so it’s best to err on the side of undercooking.

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Couscous, Herbs, Tomatoes Salad with Scallops

5 from 1 vote
couscous herbs , tomatoes salad with scallops
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Couscous, herbs, tomato salad with scallops. Sometimes you come across a recipe with your name written all over it, and you must try it.

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ cup couscous
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • salt
  • 1 ⅔ cup boiling water
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cups onions, sliced paper-thin
  • ¼ cup raising
  • ¾ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup fresh mint, leaves roughly torn
  • 1 lemon, zest the whole lemon and then juice to get 2 tablespoons
  • 12 sea scallops, all the same size
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  • In a small bowl mix together all the spices: cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, and pepper and set aside.
    Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with half of the spice mix, ¾ teaspoon salt, and a couple of dashes of pepper, then pour in the boiling water. Stir and cover the bowl tightly with foil and set aside for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and fluff the couscous with a fork. Set aside to cool.
  • Put 1 tablespoon olive oil int a large frying pan and place over high heat. Once hot, add the tomatoes and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times. Cook until they start to brown and split open. Remove from the pan, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and set aside with any juices.
  • Wipe the skillet clean, then add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and return to medium-high heat. Add the onions, the remaining spice mixture, 1/8 teaspoon salt and fry for 10-12 minutes, stirring, until golden brown and soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the raisins, and set aside to cool.
  • Once the couscous has cooled slightly, transfer it to a large bowl. Add the onion and raisin mix and stir. Add the cilantro, mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt and a generous grind of pepper and mix gently.
  • Transfer to a serving platter, top with the tomatoes and serve.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and seat the scallops for 3 minutes on each side. The scallops should be golden on the outside and springy to the touch.

Nutrition

Calories: 597kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 638mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 925IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 2mg

Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.

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