Pearl Couscous Salad with Asparagus and Lemon

Bright, citrusy, and loaded with tender couscous and tender-crisp asparagus, this Pearl Couscous Salad with Asparagus and Lemon is a cold and refreshing salad that’s perfect for lunch or dinner.

Closeup of pearl couscous salad with asparagus & cherry tomatoes in a bowl

Did you know there are two kinds of couscous? There are the itty bitty couscous grains (couscous isn’t a grain at all but pasta), and then there are the bigger pearls, also called Israeli couscous. I love cooking with Israeli couscous – it’s such a fun shape, and it’s so easy to mix and match with other ingredients to create delicious dishes.

Delicious dishes, just like this pearl couscous salad. I’ve added a tangy lemon vinaigrette, and the asparagus, red onion, and cherry tomatoes add lots of flavor. It’s a bright and tangy salad loaded with crunchy bits, tender bits, and oodles of flavor. 

This is a great salad – it’s quick and easy to make, and everyone loves it. It’s perfect for dinner as a side dish or even a meatless main dish, and I love nibbling on leftovers for lunch, too.

pearl couscous salad with asparagus & cherry tomatoes in a vintage blue Pyrex bowl

What is Couscous?

Couscous is pasta, and despite looking like a grain, there’s nothing grainy about it other than its shape. Originating in Northern Africa and made famous by Moroccan cuisine, couscous was traditionally made by hand. Today, you can buy it premade; all you need to do is add water and let it steam. 

There’s also pearl couscous or Israeli couscous. Pearl couscous is also made from semolina flour and water, so it is also pasta. It, however, needs to be boiled because the pasta balls are larger. You cook it just like regular pasta – in salted, boiling water.


  • Whole wheat pearl couscous
  • Asparagus – Look for thin, uniform spears.
  • Grape tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes will also work, but cut them in half.
  • Red onion – Diced small.
  • Lemon – Fresh lemon juice.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper – To taste.