Grilled Chicken and Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Lemon Dressing


Yes, this is a salad that doesn’t contain any sort of lettuce. Think of it as a heartier alternative but still light enough to make it one of my favorite summer meals. It does involve several steps to get to the finished product, but I swear, it’s pretty easy and totally worth it! This dish works great for dinner parties, as you can make most of it ahead and just toss it all together right before people arrive.

I found the original recipe in the pages of Southern Living a couple of years ago, and immediately made a couple of modifications, the most significant of which is to add tomatoes. If you don’t care for tomatoes, you could easily leave those out.

Not familiar with Israeli/pearl couscous? If you haven’t tried it, you should! I love the texture. My favorite brand is Bob’s Red Mill, which you should be able to find pretty easily in your local grocery store, but if not, you can always order online.



Grilled Chicken and Toasted Israeli Couscous Salad with Lemon Dressing



  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 (6 0z) chicken breast cutlets


  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped thyme
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  • 1 cup uncooked pearl (Israeli) couscous
  • 2 (1-3″) lemon peel strips
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt


  • 1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 (1/2 inch thick) red onion slices
  • 1/2 cup sliced grape tomatoes




Whisk together olive oil, garlic cloves, lemon zest and juice, chopped thyme, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Place chicken cutlets in a 1-gallon zip-top plastic freezer bag, and add marinade. Seal bag, and turn to coat. Chill 30 minutes to 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove chicken from bag and marinade; discard marinade.


Whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice, pressed garlic clove, thyme, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl; cover and chill.


Cook couscous and lemon peel strips in heated olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium, stirring often, until mostly golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Add water and salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until barely tender, approximately 10 minutes. Discard lemon peel strips.

Chicken and Vegetables:

Coat cold cooking grate of grill with cooking spray, and place on grill. Preheat grill to medium (350° to 400°). Toss asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Brush both sides of onion slices with remaining olive oil. Grill chicken, asparagus, and onions until chicken is done and vegetables are tender and charred, about 3 minutes on each side*.

Allow to cool. Slice chicken; cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces, and roughly chop onions. Toss together couscous, chicken, asparagus, onions, tomatoes, and dressing.



*Alternative cooking suggestion for vegetables: If you don’t want to wait and grill your vegetables when you’re doing your chicken, an alternative is to roast the asparagus and onions on a sheet tray in your oven at 400 degrees. I typically leave the asparagus in for 10 minutes, and the onions for 20-25 minutes. This allows you to do these ahead and get that step of the process out of the way.

adapted from Southern Living