Two Kooks » All Recipes » Pumpkin Recipes » Roast Pumpkin Salad With Couscous

Roast Pumpkin Salad With Couscous

Fall food fans will love this roast pumpkin salad paired with couscous, pecans and a bright earthy orange vinaigrette dressing. It’s also fabulous with sweet potatoes if you can’t get your hands on a pumpkin.

The pretty colors make it a lovely addition to a buffet table. In fact, all you need is a few red pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries to replicate the vibrant palette of autumn leaves 🍁.

Roast Pumpkin Salad With Couscous

Most roasted pumpkin salad recipes you find on the internet include greens, pumpkin, nuts and feta. This recipe is different.

The fluffy couscous, caramelized pumpkin and orange notes with a hint of thyme work beautifully together. Add some heat if you like – or not.

Bonus: This easy recipe can be made even easier with a few good shortcuts. Check them out below.

What to expect

In a nutshell, this delicious salad is a terrific blend of textures, pretty colors and tastes with the soft couscous, sweet pumpkin, crunchy nuts and fragrant orange and herbs.

The pumpkin couscous salad is also vegan, dairy-free and easy to customize to your liking. For example, I find sweet potato is a great substitute for pumpkin if you prefer.

The hardest part about the recipe is gutting a pumpkin so try to get a small one or a cleaned ‘chunk’ of pumpkin if you can. Unless, of course, you are using your Halloween pumpkin in which case, you’re halfway there since you have to clean it out anyway!

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

pumpkin, couscous, pecans, parsley, orange, green onion, white wine vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt & pepper, fresh thyme.
(plus Dijon mustard and optional red pepper flakes)

Couscous: Couscous is a very fast-cooking tiny granular pasta. You can substitute it with approximately 2 cups of cooked orzo, farro, quinoa, rice or pearl couscous (also known as Israeli couscous) if you like. I tried it with orzo and loved it. 

Pumpkin:

  • You can use any kind of pumpkin. Some popular types are the small sugar pumpkin (also called pie pumpkins) and cinderella pumpkin (bright orange, sweet).
  • You don’t need a whole pumpkin, so if the store sells a large chunk, grab that instead (as you see in the picture above).
  • If you can’t find a pumpkin, use sweet potato (excellent!) or butternut squash.

Vinaigrette:

  • We are using an orange vinaigrette which complements the pumpkin and couscous well. It’s made with white wine vinegar, honey, Dijon, orange zest and juice, thyme and olive oil.
  • If you are not an orange fan, you can substitute another kind of vinaigrette such as balsamic, white wine vinegar, or champagne vinaigrette, to name a few.

Nuts: I like pecans but many other kinds of nuts will work such as cashews, pistachios, almonds, pine nuts or walnuts. Toasting the nuts deepens their flavor.

Variations:

  • A few deep red pomegranate seeds sprinkled over the pumpkin salad would be gorgeous (do it just before serving so they don’t ‘bleed’ into the couscous.
  • Other garnish options are radish slivers or diced avocado.
  • Instead of thyme, feel free to use other fresh herbs like chives or oregano.
  • Bump up the flavor of the couscous by steaming it in vegetable broth instead of water.
  • You can increase the amount of pumpkin if you want. The recipe is just a guideline for that. I do that sometimes to lower the carb-to-pumpkin ratio.

Step by step instructions

cubed pumpkin tossed with oil and seasonings in large mixing bowl.
Toss diced pumpkin with a a little olive oil, salt and a little bit of maple syrup or honey.
diced seasoned pumpkin on baking tray lined with parchment.
Place pumpkin in a single layer on a baking tray.
diced roasted pumpkin on baking tray lined with parchment.
Roast until tender and caramelized.
cooked couscous in pot.
Make the couscous (very quick and easy).
orange vinaigrette dressing in glass measuring cup.
Whisk together the orange vinaigrette.
nuts toasting in small skillet.
Toast the nuts (optional).
all prepared pumpkin couscous salad ingredients laid out in serving bowl, not yet mixed.
Assemble the salad components in a large bowl – couscous, roast pumpkin, pecans, parsley and green onion.
Roast Pumpkin Salad With Couscous
Add the vinaigrette dressing and toss everything together.
Roast Pumpkin Salad With Couscous

Tips for roasting pumpkin

Small cubes will cook faster, but don’t cut them less than 1/2 inch/ 1.3 cm or they will dry out or collapse.

Spread the pumpkin cubes in a single layer on the pan, not touching each other or they will steam instead of brown.

I like to drizzle a touch of maple syrup or honey on the pumpkin before roasting to enhance the sweetness and speed up caramelization.

What to serve with roast pumpkin salad

When serving the roasted pumpkin couscous salad as a side dish, I like to pair it with one of these mains: grilled rack of lamb, pecan crusted salmon, sous vide roast pork, marinated flank steak, spicy honey-lime chicken, baked beef back ribs with maple bourbon glaze or lemon-butter-herb trout.

The salad also makes a great main course by adding grilled chicken, shrimp or tofu.

Shortcuts

If you’re short on time, here are a few good time-saving shortcuts.

  1. Buy a piece of a pumpkin if your grocery store carries them. It comes clean with no seeds to scrape out. Another option is to get a small sugar (pie) pumpkin to avoid wrestling with a large one.
  2. Instead of pumpkin, buy sweet potatoes or butternut squash that are sold fresh and precut into cubes in many grocery stores now. This saves a lot of peeling and cutting time.
  3. Buy a vinaigrette instead of making the one in the recipe card. Some options are champagne, balsamic, apple cider or red red wine vinaigrette. 
  4. Buy nuts that are already roasted instead of roasting them yourself. Or just add plain untoasted nuts.

Make ahead

You can serve the pumpkin couscous salad cold, at room temperature or warm.

This recipe benefits from making it 30 minutes to a couple of hours ahead to allow the flavors to blend (although it’s not essential as the flavors are quite robust). It’s even delicious for lunch the next day.

Check the notes in the recipe card for instructions on how to:

  • store leftovers (they will last 2-3 days in the fridge)
  • make the pumpkin couscous salad a day or two in advance
  • reheat the salad if you prefer it warm.

Recipe FAQs

What is couscous?

Couscous is a tiny, granular pasta made from durum wheat semolina. It has a light, fluffy texture and a neutral flavor which allows it to absorb the flavors of seasonings and salad dressing well.

How do I clean my pumpkin for cooking?

Here is a video on how to clean a pumpkin for cooking purposes. Once cleaned, peel it with a sharp knife then cut the flesh into small cubes.

Is pumpkin healthy?

Yes, pumpkin is healthy as it is packed with vitamins and minerals and is relatively low in calories due to its high water content. Here is an article by Healthline on 9 impressive benefits for pumpkin.

Roast Pumpkin Salad With Couscous

Other pumpkin recipes

If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟with a comment in the recipe card below. Thanks so much!

Roast Pumpkin Salad With Couscous
Print Recipe Pin Save Recipe

Rate this recipe here

5 from 3 votes

Roast Pumpkin Salad With Couscous

Fall food fans will love this roast pumpkin salad paired with couscous, pecans and a bright earthy orange vinaigrette dressing. It's also fabulous with sweet potatoes if you can't get your hands on a pumpkin.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 6

Ingredients

Couscous

  • 1 cup couscous, Note 1
  • 1 cup water (or vegetable stock or broth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pumpkin salad ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds pumpkin, cut in ~ 1/2 inch/1/3 cm cubes. Note 2 &3 (or sweet potato, about 2 large)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (or honey or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped green onions (1-2 green onions)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecan pieces, Note 4

Orange vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoon orange juice
  • 2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon each, salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional) for heat

Instructions

  • HEAT OVEN TO 425F/218C.
  • ROAST PUMPKIN: In a medium bowl, toss pumpkin cubes, oil, salt and maple syrup if using. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and spread out cubes in a single layer. Don't overcrowd them or they will steam instead of getting golden brown. Roast for about 25-30 minutes, turning them halfway through until slightly caramelized and tender. Cooking time will depend on the size of the pumpkin pieces.
  • MAKE COUSCOUS: Follow package directions. Typically, boil water, add couscous and salt, stir, cover, remove from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes to absorb the water. Fluff with a fork.
  • MAKE ORANGE VINAIGRETTE: Place all ingredients in a sealed container and shake well. Or whisk ingredients in a small bowl.
  • ASSEMBLE PUMPKIN COUSCOUS SALAD: Place couscous, roasted pumpkin, parsley, nuts and green onion in a serving bowl. Pour over most of the dressing (start with less and add more if needed). Toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

  1. Couscous alternatives: Instead of couscous, use ~ 2 cups cooked orzo, farro, quinoa, pearl couscous or rice. 
  2. Pumpkin options:
    • You can use any kind of pumpkin. Some popular types are sugar pumpkin (also called pie pumpkin) and cinderella pumpkin (bright orange, sweet).
    • You don’t need a whole pumpkin, so if the store sells a large chunk, grab that instead.
    • If you can’t find pumpkin, use sweet potato (excellent!) or butternut squash (I love sweet potato in this recipe).
    • Don’t cut the pumpkin cubes too small or they will dry out and collapse. 
  3. How to clean a pumpkin: Here is a video on how to clean a pumpkin for cooking purposes. Once cleaned, peel it with a sharp knife then cut the flesh into small cubes.
  4. How to toast nuts: Place nuts in a small dry skillet. Heat skillet to medium heat. Toast nuts, shaking occasionally for about 5 minutes until fragrant. Cool. You can also toast nuts in the microwave or oven. Here’s an article on how to toast nuts in the microwave, stove top or oven.
  5. Shortcuts:
    • Buy precut squash or sweet potato (if you’re not using pumpkin). You might have to cut pieces in half if they are too large.
    • Buy a vinaigrette instead of making your own. Examples: champagne, balsamic, apple cider, red wine vinaigrette. 
    • Buy nuts that are already roasted. Or skip the roasting. 
  6. Variations:
      • Sprinkle few deep red pomegranate seeds over the pumpkin salad just before serving so they don’t ‘bleed’ into the couscous. Pretty and Fall-ish! 
      • Other garnish options are radish slivers or diced avocado.
      • Instead of thyme, feel free to use other fresh herbs like chives or oregano.
      • Bump up the flavor of the couscous by steaming it in vegetable broth instead of water.
  7. Make ahead:
    • You can serve the pumpkin couscous salad cold, at room temperature or warm.
    • It’s perfectly fine – even better – to make the salad 30 minutes or a couple of hours ahead to allow the flavors to blend. If you want to warm it up, pop it in the microwave for a minute or two before serving.
    • Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container or sealed bag for up to 2-3 days.
    • To make the salad a day or two in advance: Roast the pumpkin and cook the couscous. Store them separately in airtight containers in the fridge. When ready to serve (or a few hours ahead), combine the pumpkin and couscous with the rest of the ingredients and the salad dressing. If you prefer the salad warm, first place the pumpkin and couscous in a bowl and gently reheat them in the microwave then add the remaining ingredients and combine. 
 
Nutrition values are estimates using pumpkin, regular couscous and pecans. 

Nutrition

Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 602mg | Potassium: 513mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 10025IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




2 Comments