Caprese couscous with balsamic drizzle is light, fresh, and ready in minutes! Bursting with fresh basil, juicy tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese, this pasta salad is going to be a hit at all your summer get togethers.
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I’ve been on a huge summer food kick.
I’m not usually one to cook with the seasons because I want to eat what I want when I want it. This year, however, I’ve managed to keep my herbs alive so now I’m looking for any excuse to use them.
These little organic grape tomatoes were the perfect match for my basil. I was also happy to find some tiny little mozzarella pearls to tie the whole dish together.
Paired up with some pearled couscous, olive oil, and balsamic drizzle, this makes a great hot or cold meal that’s perfect for an outdoor gathering or potluck. Caprese couscous is the ideal pasta salad for those of you who, like me, aren’t a fan of typical mayo-heavy pasta salads.
- Balsamic vinegar
- Brown sugar
- Pearled couscous
- Grape tomatoes
- Fresh mozzarella pearls
- Olive oil
How to make caprese couscous salad
- In a medium saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Once bubbling, reduce heat slightly and allow to cook until thickened. Allow the cooked vinegar to cool. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to package directions. Once fully cooked, add basil, tomatoes, mozzarella, and olive oil to taste, stirring gently to incorporate everything. Divide amongst bowls and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction.
How to cut basil
For this recipe, I like using thin strips of basil. If you’re not sure how to cut basil into thin strips, here’s how I do it.
- Take a few basil leaves off the stem and stack one on top of the other.
- Roll them together.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the rolled basil leaves as thinly as possible.
- Use your fingers to separate the ribbons of basil and then you’re ready to use them!
Buying fresh mozzarella pearls
Mozzarella pearls can generally be found in the “fancy” cheese section of your local grocery store. If you can’t find mozzarella pearls, you can use a big ball of fresh mozzarella and cut it into bite size pieces.
How to store caprese couscous salad
I recommend storing the balsamic reduction separately from the caprese couscous.
Store caprese couscous in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. The balsamic reduction will last for at least 3 months if it is properly sealed in an air tight container and stored in the refrigerator.
Tips for customizing caprese pasta salad
- Add roasted chickpeas for a bit of protein and crunch
- Use sun dried tomatoes in place or in addition to fresh tomatoes
- Swap the balsamic drizzle for a dollop of homemade pesto
- Meat eaters can add cubed chicken
- Serve with balsamic tofu for a complete meal
Often mistaken for a whole grain, couscous is actually a small round pasta made of semolina and wheat flour.
Pearled couscous is a staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It’s larger in size than Moroccan couscous, but just as versatile!
Couscous can be part of a healthy diet when properly portioned. Pearled couscous is a good source of fiber, and paired with vegetables and proteins, makes for a nutritious meal.
More side dish recipes
- Vegan Orzo Pasta Salad
- Caesar Pasta Salad
- Pizza Salad
- Garlic Ginger Snow Peas
- Vegan Potluck Barley Salad
- Oven Roasted Carrots with Thyme
- Spinach and White Beans
- Israeli Couscous Salad
If you make this recipe, be sure to rate it, leave a comment, or tag #theliveinkitchen on Instagram!
Caprese Couscous with Balsamic Drizzle
- 2 cups balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 6 ounces box pearled couscous
- 12 basil leaves, cut into thin strips
- ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup fresh mozzarella pearls
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- In a medium saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Once bubbling, reduce heat slightly and allow to cook until thickened, 10-20 minutes. Allow the cooked vinegar to cool slightly. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Meanwhile, prepare couscous according to package directions. Once fully cooked, add basil, tomatoes, mozzarella, and olive oil to taste, stirring gently to incorporate everything. Divide amongst bowls and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction. Alternatively, transfer the entire couscous mixture to a large bowl and drizzle balsamic reduction over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Melanie | Melanie Makes says
This looks perfect summer, Lindsay – delicious!
Lindsay, this recipe looks amazing! I love Caprese salads, but this looks so much better! 🙂 I recently committed to a ‘real food’ diet — so I am in love with your blog! Thank you for sharing!
Kelly, What Love Does
Lindsay Moe says
Thanks Kelly! I agree, caprese salads are great, but I just feel weird eating only tomatoes, cheese, and basil. I need some carbs in there! Thanks for visiting the blog and good luck on your real food journey!
Theresa Anderson says
This salad is amazing! I made it for a huge family reunion summer float trip down the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. It kept super-well, added the balsamic dressing at the last minute, and was a total hit when we pulled out mid-way and included it to our river-side picnic before we headed out to the next set of rapids!
Lindsay Moe says
What a wonderful story! I’m so glad you all enjoyed it, thanks so much for sharing!