Green Salads | July 10, 2010

Erin and Misty’s Basil Couscous Salad aka- my new favorite salad

Cous cous salad is your new favorite salad! It’s perfect to for baby or wedding showers, summer BBQs, or a dinner at home with your family.
Erin and Misty's Basil Couscous Salad
My amazing friend Erin gave this recipe to me. Erin inherited this recipe from her little sis, Misty. This is a great salad for any time of the year- especially spring and summer. I tried this recipe when I needed to make a salad for 60 people. It was a wedding shower, and perfect for the event. First try, I used the spring mix suggested, but I really dislike it when a salad goes limp. Don’t you hate that? I like using romaine in salads that are heavy on other filler ingredients. Reason being- I like the green to be substantial enough to support the other ingredients. Salads are like shows. In this salad, the greens are support, and all of the other ingredients are leads.

Erin and Misty's Basil Couscous Salad

Erin and Misty's Basil Couscous Salad

I made the salad again, with romaine and spinach and I loved it. The Romaine was firm and crunchy. No problem tossing the dressing with the salad. No limp leaves. Hooray for firm lettuce! I know you think I’m weirdly obsessive about ridiculous things. But this is important, I promise.

A few hours before serving, start prepping the salad and make the dressing. The dressing is best when it’s been refrigerated for a bit. This also gives time for the couscous and corn to cool off after they’ve been cooked. A little bit before you’re ready to serve, you can assemble all the ingredients you’ve already prepped and toss with the dressing! This is a great “make-ahead” salad for showers or parties. You can prep everything the day before, refrigerate it all, and toss everything together before eating.

Want more of a complete meal? Throw in some chicken and you’ve got a great main dish for dinner. Or just serve it as a side salad. It’s delicious any way you decide to make it.

Erin and Misty's Basil Couscous Salad
5 from 2 votes

Basil Couscous Salad

Servings 8


  • 1 package Olive Oil and Garlic Couscous OR 1/2 cup of cous cous prepared as directed
  • 12 cups Romaine lettuce about 1 large or two medium heads*
  • 1/2 cup Craisins
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups or 3-4 medium ears fresh white corn cooked, cooled and cut off cob*
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Dressing: (enough for a double batch of salad)

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves*
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 shallot chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


For best results- a day before, or at least a few hours before:

  1. Cook package of couscous according to directions on box. Cool completely. If you are using plain cous cous follow directions for cooking in recipe notes.

  2. Wash and dry lettuce, set aside in refrigerator.
  3. Cook corn, rinse with cool water. Cut corn off cob and place in refrigerator to cool completely.
  4. Make dressing by mixing all ingredients in blender or by using a hand immersion blender. Refrigerate.

When ready to serve:

  1. Place cooked couscous in a large bowl. Chop lettuce into bite size pieces. Add lettuce and rest of salad ingredients into bowl. Just before serving, drizzle dressing (I only use about 1/2 ) and toss. You may serve additional remaining dressing on the side.

Recipe Notes

  • When I say "large" head of Romaine, I'm not talking about a Costco head of Romaine. Those are Romaine hearts. If you are using Costco Romaine, probably about 4-5 heads will do.
  • The first time I made this salad, I tried to cook the couscous and cook the corn and let both cool before adding to the salad. It really works best to cook both several hours or the day before and refrigerate. Also best to use really cold lettuce and dressing. I tried both ways, and had the best result when preparing ingredients the day before and then toss the ingredients when all completely chilled.
  • If fresh is not available, frozen corn works well! 

27 thoughts on “Erin and Misty’s Basil Couscous Salad aka- my new favorite salad

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  1. I miss Erin… but am happy to be the littlest sis of those two above-mentioned ladies. I've never tried it but I guess I'm obligated to now.

  2. Yikes how old are WE going to be? I was ok until i saw it in print. ( I am half way to 96). I did love the show-salad comparison and the salad.

  3. Thanks for your great site. The photo looks like it has sunflower seeds or pine nuts in the salad. I have pumpkin seeds, but they have a rather strong flavor. Which nuts work best with this salad? Btw, my claim to fame is as sis-in-law to the Celeb Laurie of Amazing Choc Cake fame.

  4. Kelly, you will love this salad!
    Anon- the seeds in the photo are roasted punmpkin seeds. I loved the crunch. To eat alone, the flavor was a little strong, but perfect on the salad. You could sub any of the seeds you mentioned. Lucky you to be related to Laurie! Love her. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I made this salad for dinner this week. It is sooooooo good! The dressing is just delicious and fresh tasting. I can't wait to make it again. Everyone in my family enjoyed it. Thanks so much for sharing so many wonderful recipies. I look forward to your new posts each week! Love all your recipies. Thanks again!

  6. made this tonight for a bbq side dish, and it was so fresh and fabulous! the texture is amazing (such a great combo of crunchy, chewy, etc) and the creamy basil dressing just makes your mouth water like it's crying with happiness!

  7. I had this salad at a friend’s house last year and didn’t have the courage to make it until now! Fantastic salad!

    1. Joanna,
      I’m glad you finally made it! This is one of the salads I have served over and over again and every time receive recipe requests. Thanks for reading ABK!

  8. Do you think I could substitute Greek yogurt for the mayo with success? Trying to cut down the calories in the dressing.

    1. Hi Maurine,
      I have not tried it. It would also change the flavor a bit, but I think it may work in this recipe. If you try it, I suggest making the dressing a full day ahead of time so the dressing has time to thicken a bit. Let me know if you try it! I substituted greek yogurt for sour cream this weekend in a dip and the results were amazing!

      1. Thanks for your help. We made it today to go with our grilled chicken for Labor Day. Such a yummy salad, we all loved it. The dressing turned out good substituting Greek yogurt. I don’t know how it compares to the taste with mayo, but it thickened nicely and tasted good so it worked for us! Thanks again!

        1. Maurine, So good to know! I’m going to give the Greek yogurt a try next time! Thanks for reading and coming back to give feedback 🙂

  9. I made this salad for a very special dinner party. I thought it was wonderful and like Brooke I wanted to drink the dressing. There is no better compliment as to the dinner guests asking me for the recipe. The special guest is headed to Geneva Switzerland for several years representing the LDS church at the UN. She asked for the recipe to take with her for entertaining special guests at her home in Switzerland. Thank you so much.

    1. Thank you Nena! Wow, what a compliment, I passed this along to Misty and Erin, who originally gave me this recipe. They are not sure where it originated, but we sure love it. Thanks for reading ABK and for your thoughtful comment!

    1. Bonnie,
      This salad will serve 12-14 as a large side. I love the combination of flavors and the crunch of the pumpkin seeds! Be sure to check out my tips on the best way to prepare and serve this salad to avoid stress on the day of the shower. I’m sure this recipe will impress.

  10. 5 stars
    I had a friend bring this to a party and the flavors and crunch of the sweet corn along with the to die for dressing this was such a yummy salad. One that I have thought about over the years and love it just as much as the first time I had it. You can’t go wrong with any one of these recipes.

  11. 5 stars
    This salad is awesome! My husband and I made it for dinner tonight and ate the whole thing just the two of us! So yummy!