Arugula and Toasted Couscous Salad with Roasted Root Veggies and Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
Make this gorgeous showstopper of a salad for lunch or dinner. It is lovely served on its own or top with baked chicken or salmon for a hearty meal.
Post Updated: July 2021
I recently came upon my Dr. Seuss “All About Me” book that I filled out when I was five years old. Millennial friends, you may recall filling one of these out yourselves anywhere from age 5-8.
The book is full of fill-in-the-blank prompts and questions that kiddos can answer about themselves. And, I’ll admit it’s a pretty fun memento to go through nearly 30 years later and see what I wrote.
One of the more surprising answers I gave was in response to the “Favorite Food” prompt.
I wrote salad.
At five years old, my favorite food was salad. Riiiiiight.
I’m gonna call Bologna Sandwich on myself right now. I highly doubt that any five year old likes salad SO much that they would permanently commit themselves (in crayon no less!) to such a lame answer.
The more plausible explanations for my answer are that 1) I liked salad dressing– namely, Ranch and 2) Since I was five years old and not completely able to spell words like ‘salad’ without a little help from Dad, I admitted that a vegetable was my favorite food – like the good people-pleasing child that I was. God forbid my parents find out that my favorite thing to eat is Publix Birthday Cake!
Arugula Salad with Couscous and Vegetables
Yet, here I am 30 years later, and I actually do love salad. I eat salad every day. Romaine, Iceberg, Spinach, Kale – It’s all great in my book. Is it possible that maybe I just had a mature palate at age five? No, I’m still not buying it.
However, I might have enjoyed this salad. It’s beautiful speckled with jewel like roasted beets and parsnips. There’s chewy pearl couscous sprinkled all over, and the dressing has maple syrup in it!
This salad is light, yet satisfying and really lovely for fall. It starts with a base of peppery arugula and some baby spinach, but you can of course just use spinach if you prefer. Then, just sprinkle on some toasted pearl couscous, roasted parsnips and chopped beets.
Last, but not least, give the salad a generous drizzle with my new favorite fall dressing, maple-mustard vinaigrette. With just over a handful of ingredients, you can enjoy this simple and flavorful salad for your next lunch or dinner!
Perfect Fall Salad with Roasted Vegetables
Now that the temps have finally dropped, I’m enjoying putting my oven to work almost on the daily. Since I’m not quite ready to turn on the heat, roasting food in the oven is a nice way to warm up in my kitchen. This was definitely something I learned during my first few Chicago winters. Meal prepping and staying snuggly at the same time? Yes, and yes.
Want more fall recipes? Try this Fall Harvest Salad with Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing and this Roasted Sweet Potato, Carrot, and Turmeric Soup.
Roasted vegetables as a salad accessory require a little bit more effort, but I promise it’s worth it. I mean, look how pretty they are atop the arugula and toasted pearl couscous! And can we talk about toasted pearl couscous for a second? It’s absolutely beautiful in this salad and adds some wonderful heartiness and texture.
How to Toast Couscous
Toasting the couscous is easy and just takes a few extra minutes. Simply heat up a bit of oil in a frying pan and toss in your couscous. Over medium-high heat, toast the pearls until they brown slightly while stirring every few seconds with your spatula.
Then all you need to do is add a cup of water and a pinch of salt to the pan, cover it with a lid, and set it to simmer for ten minutes. Ta-da! You’ve got yourself some toasted and tender pearl couscous ready to sprinkle over your salad.
How to Roast Parsnips and Beets
Roasting the parsnips is a super cinch as well. Just peel them like carrots and chop them into one-inch pieces. Then, chop them in half so they can have a flat edge. Toss them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and place them on your baking sheet.
If you’ve never roasted your own beets, now you can see just how easy they are to prep. Take your beets and trim off the stems and the little end of the root if you want. Then, just wrap the whole beet up in some tin foil, and you’re ready to go!
Yep, that’s it. No need to peel the skin before roasting either. After the beets have cooked and cooled completely, you’ll easily be able to peel the skin right off.
I put the parsnips and the tin foil wrapped beets onto a sheet pan and roasted them in the oven for 40-45 minutes at 375 F. This step is great to do the day before you assemble your salad, that way you know your veggies have cooled, and all you have to do is make the couscous and vinaigrette.
Making the Maple Mustard Vinaigrette
For the maple mustard dressing, just mix all of the ingredients together until well blended. I love to use my tiny whisk for this. It’s the perfect tool for making homemade salad dressings. My next favorite way to mix dressings is in a mason jar. Add all your ingredients to the jar, seal tightly with a lid, and shake vigorously while singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Just kidding, you can pick any song you want.
Then, all that’s left to do is assemble your fabulous salad, and enjoy! And just a friendly reminder about beets – they are messy as all heck and will stain anything and everything you come into contact with! Use and apron, and don’t wear anything you love while you prep this!
With that, I’ll leave you to channel your inner Dwight Schrute, Beet Farmer (Hi “Office” fans!) and make this salad!
Arugula Salad with Toasted Couscous, Roasted Vegetables, and Maple Mustard Vinaigrette
A delightful and hearty salad for two. Peppery arugula and baby spinach gets topped with toasted couscous, roasted root vegetables and dressed in a maple mustard vinaigrette. Delicious!
For The Salad:
- 2 Parsnips
- 2-4 Beets
- 1/3 C Israeli or Pearl Couscous
- 1 C Water
- 2 Bunches Arugula + Baby Spinach Mix
- 2 TBS Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper
For the Dressing
- 4 TBS Olive oil
- 2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 TBS Maple Syrup
- 2 tsp Whole Grain Mustard
- 1/2 tsp Dried Parsley
- 1/8 tsp Salt & Pepper or to taste
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Wash, peel, and slice the parsnips into one-inch pieces. (I like to cut each piece in half so they have a flat edge, but you can leave them in one-inch pieces if you prefer.) Place the chopped parsnips in a bowl, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, spread them out onto a lined baking sheet.
Trim the stems and bottom of the root off of the beets. Wrap each beet tightly in a piece of tin foil, and place them on the baking sheet with the chopped parsnips. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 40-45 minutes until cooked through and tender.
Once cooked, remove the vegetables from the oven and allow them to cool completely before peeling and chopping the beets (At least 15-20 minutes.) Prepare your couscous at this time.
For the couscous:
Heat 1 TBS of oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the dry couscous, and toast in the pan for about 3-5 minutes while stirring constantly with a spatula. You will notice the couscous will begin to turn a light brown color and become aromatic.
Once the couscous has toasted, add 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender.
Cover the pan, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes more minutes until the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender.
For the dressing:
Mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or mason jar and whisk or shake until well blended.
Prepare your salad by laying a bed of arugula on a plate. Top with the toasted couscous, chopped roasted parsnips and chopped roasted beets. Drizzle generously with the maple-mustard dressing. Enjoy!