Couscous Salad with Fennel and Almonds

This couscous salad with fennel and almonds combines good-quality tuna, salty caper berries, peppery arugula, crunchy shaved fennel, and sliced almonds with couscous to make a supremely satisfying meal.

A blue and white platter filled with couscous salad with fennel and almonds with a torn baguette and a couple of glasses of white wine beside it.

You could, of course, serve couscous plain, dressed with a little oil and lemon juice, even a smattering of aromatic spice—cinnamon, nutmeg, and so forth—to go with pretty much anything. But, inspired by the way they cook it in Sicily, you can throw in salty caper berries, a good tin of oily—almost meaty—tuna, and sweet aniseed-y fennel. This makes for a vibrant centerpiece more than substantial enough to serve on its own.–Skye McAlpine

Couscous Salad with Fennel and Almonds

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Serves 6
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Ingredients

  • For the couscous
  • For serving

Directions

Make the couscous

In a small saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a boil.

Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling stock over the couscous and stir to combine. Cover and let soak until the liquid has been fully absorbed by the couscious, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, if using caper berries, slice them in half. Very thinly slice the fennel.

Tester tip: If you have a mandoline or hand-held slicer, now’s the time to break it out for paper-thin fennel slices. Alternatively, using a sharp knife, cut the trimmed fennel bulb in half lengthwise and then place the halves, cut side down, on your work surface, and slice them as thinly as possible into half circles.

Use a fork to fluff the couscous and generously douse it with 2 tablespoons of oil. Stir in the almonds, caper berries or capers, and fennel and toss to thoroughly combine.

Add the tuna and its oil, using a fork to gently flake any chunks and mix it throughout the couscous. (You can cover and refrigerate the couscous at this point for up to a day.)

To serve

Just before serving, lightly toss the couscous with the arugula, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons oil, and season with salt and pepper. Taste and, if desired, add more oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with additional almonds. Serve immediately.

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    Make It Your Own

    • Tux variation

      This couscous is highly adaptable to individual whimsy – or the contents of your fridge and pantry. Add a flourish of color with sliced cherry tomatoes or julienned red pepper. Brighten the whole shebang with a handful of chopped parsley, cilantro, or those feathery fennel fronds you trimmed from the bulb. Sprinkle with plump raisins. Or come up with something different and let us know in a comment below what worked for you!

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This humble little recipe was a big win, being wonderfully easy yet delicious and satisfying. The perfect meal for a quick summer dinner. I was happy to be reintroduced to fennel, an often overlooked but always surprisingly wonderful vegetable. As an added bonus, the leftovers held up well in the refrigerator, needing just a little squeeze of lemon juice to be refreshed.

    Coming together in no time, this dish is highly adaptable to your liking. For me, that meant significantly upping the amount of almonds, lemon juice, and arugula. Be sure to use a good quality olive oil packed tuna and you’ll be good to go.

    Paired with some sourdough toast, it made for a complete and filling meal. The flaky nuts add a welcome crunch. After testing as is, I would definitely add more capers and almonds. Also feel this dish benefited from a generous extra squeeze of lemon juice and lots more arugula.

    As a Sicilian girl, this salad made me so happy on so many levels!!! It captures the true essence of Sicily–bright, fresh, and simply beautiful. Like sunshine in a bowl! It’s a perfect meal for a hot summer's day when you don't feel like cooking, not to mention it comes together so incredibly fast.

    It's also a perfect example of how good quality ingredients can make a simple dish an outstanding one. Be sure to use good quality tuna! I used Italian tuna in olive oil (which also eliminated the need to add any extra olive oil to the salad). I assure you that flaked tuna in water will not yield the same results.

    I sliced my fennel on a mandoline to get nice thin, even slices, which were beautifully delicate. My husband said he would have liked some red onion in this salad, but I really enjoyed it just as is. Totally a keeper!

    HUNGRY FOR MORE?

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    Comments

      1. I think any of those would work well in this salad, Lee. If you’re substituting for the tuna, you may need to add extra oil to the salad to make up for the canned tuna oil. Do let us know how it turns out!

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