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+ servings

Basil Couscous Salad

Course brunch, Dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword basil, Corn, couscous salad, craisins, green salad, salad dressing
Prep Time 30 minutes
cooling time for couscous 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8


  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup cous cous, regular, not pearl
  • 12-15 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped about 1 large or two medium heads*
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • 2 cups or 3-4 medium ears fresh white or yellow corn, or frozen cooked, cooled and cut off cob*
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds salted or unsalted

Dressing: (enough for a double batch of salad)

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves*
  • 1 cup mayonnaise, I like regular but you may use light
  • 1/2 shallot chopped
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken or substitute in notes
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar sold near vinegar and salad dressings
  • salt and pepper to taste


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

  1. Bring chicken broth (or water), olive oil and salt to boil in a saucepan.

  2. Add couscous to pan.

  3. Cover with lid and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove lid and break up couscous so no clumps remain.

  4. Wash, dry and chop lettuce, set aside in refrigerator.

  5. Cook corn, rinse with cool water. Cut corn off cob and place in refrigerator to cool completely. If using frozen corn, do not thaw, when ready to assemble salad take bag of corn from freezer and use in salad.

  6. Make dressing by mixing all ingredients in blender or by using a hand immersion blender. Refrigerate.

When ready to serve:

  1. 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

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. I like to use Romain from the grocery with dark green leaves for best color. 
  • It is best to cook both the corn (if using fresh) and the couscous several hours (or the day before serving)  and refrigerate. Also best to use cold lettuce and dressing. 
  • If fresh is not available, frozen corn works well! Do not cook the corn. Do not thaw corn before using. Just toss into salad frozen. The corn will thaw quickly and help keep the salad cool. 
  • This salad works well for make ahead! If using fresh corn, cook and cut off the cob. Wash and chop the greens. Cook the couscous, let cool, break up so no clumps remain. Grate cheese. Store all of the parts of the salad in individual containers in refrigerator. Make the dressing and store in fridge.When ready to serve, toss together all but the dressing.  I like to drizzle the salad with a portion of the dressing, or toss the salad with a small amount of dressing and serve the rest on the side. Always save some of the couscous, raisins, corn and Parmesan to decorate top of salad for best presentation!
  • To make a buttermilk substitute: pour 1 tablespoon lemon juice into a one cup measure. Fill with milk and let sit for at least 5 minutes before using. Alternately, place 1/2 cup of plain unsweetened Greek yogurt into a one cup measure. Fill with milk to equal one cup. Stir and use in place of one cup buttermilk.