Vegan Zucchini Couscous: the Easy and Vegan Recipe for a Light, Fresh and Tasty Summer Lunch!

Total time: 30 mins.
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 2 people
By Cookist

Summer lunches call for light, tasty, quick and easy to prepare main dishes. One recipe that ticks all of these categories is Zucchini Couscous, for sure! A simple and versatile main dish, very quick to prepare, perfect to serve at room temperature for a genuine lunch suitable for the whole family, it's also equally tasty when you prep it in advance and put it in your lunch box for a meal at the office, in the park or even on the beach.

Our recipe, ready in less than half an hour, the small grains of durum wheat semolina are seasoned with salt, soaked in boiling water and extra virgin olive oil, then shelled and finally flavored with zucchini diced into cubes and previously browned with a base of oil and onion. The result is a light dish, made super fragrant by the fresh basil leaves. Convenient to prepare in advance and kept in the fridge for 1 or 2 days, it will also be perfect as an appetizing finger food for a brunch with friends or a party buffet, placed in single-portion glasses or bowls.

What is Zucchini Couscous?

Couscous, a staple of North African cuisine, dates back to the 7th century. Originating among the Berbers, it spread across the Maghreb and beyond, becoming a beloved dish worldwide. Traditionally made from steamed semolina, couscous is versatile and pairs well with various ingredients. Zucchini couscous, a modern twist, combines this ancient grain with the mild, fresh flavor of zucchini, offering a nutritious and delicious adaptation that highlights the blend of old and new culinary traditions.

Tips to Get the Best Zucchini Couscous

  • When cooking the onion, use medium heat to avoid burning. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent, which adds sweetness to the dish. Add the zucchini and basil and sauté until the zucchini is tender but still slightly firm to maintain a nice texture.
  • For extra flavor, you can use vegetable broth instead of water when preparing the couscous. This enhances the overall taste profile of the dish.
  • When adding water and olive oil to the couscous, ensure it is well mixed to prevent clumping. Let it sit covered for a few minutes to absorb the liquid fully before adding it to the pan.
  • When you combine the couscous with the zucchini mixture, cook it just long enough to heat through and blend the flavors. Avoid overcooking to keep the zucchini from becoming too mushy.

How Can I Enrich This Recipe?

If you like, you can replace the basil with mint or with the mix of aromatic herbs you like best, and use boiling vegetable broth instead of water. Of course you can add what you prefer and make it even richer and tastier. Well-drained canned tuna, anchovy fillets, boiled potatoes cut into chunks, canned chickpeas, datterini or piccadilly cherry tomatoes cut into quarters, but also crumbled feta, hard-boiled eggs and pitted Taggiasca olives will be fine: this will give you a delicious and rich main dish.

What Can I Add to Couscous to Make it Taste Better?

To make zucchini couscous taste even better, you can add garlic for extra flavor, a squeeze of lemon juice for brightness, or some toasted pine nuts for crunch. Fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro can add a fresh note, and a sprinkle of feta or Parmesan cheese can provide a savory touch. For a bit of heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Is This Recipe Gluten-Free?

No, this recipe is not gluten-free because couscous is made from wheat. To make it gluten-free, you can substitute the couscous with a gluten-free grain such as quinoa or rice.

Can I Make This in Advance?

Yes, of course! You can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. When ready to serve, reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave, adding a splash of water or olive oil if needed to refresh the texture.

Can I Freeze This?

Yes! Allow the dish to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. It can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. When ready to eat, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave, adding a bit of water or olive oil to restore its texture.

What Can I Serve With Zucchini Couscous?

Serve it alongside grilled chicken or fish for a protein boost, or with roasted vegetables for a hearty vegetarian option. A fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette complements the flavors, while a side of hummus and pita bread can add a Mediterranean touch. For a complete meal, consider adding a bowl of soup or a simple yogurt dip to round out the menu.

More Zucchini Recipes for Your Summer

Baked Zucchini Skewers

Marinated Zucchini Salad

Zucchini Rolls

Ham and Cheese Zucchini Roll-Ups

Creamy Zucchini Pasta

How to Store Zucchini Couscous

To store leftovers, place the zucchini couscous in an airtight container and refrigerate it. It will stay fresh for up to 3 days.


280 grams
Olive oil
to taste
to taste
to taste
150 grams
170 ml
Olive oil
30 ml

How to Make Zucchini Couscous

Cut the zucchini and onion into small, uniform pieces.

Pour a generous drizzle of olive oil into a pan and add the onion, cooking it until it becomes translucent. Add the basil and the zucchini and cook fot about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Scoop the couscous into a large bowl and season it with salt.

Pour the boiling water and the 30ml of extra virgin olive oil over the couscous, then cover with a lid or a plate and let it rehydrate for about 5 minutes. Once the necessary time has passed, break it up with a spatula and mix it for a few moments.

Transfer the couscous to the pan with the zucchini.

Mix all the ingredients well.

Distribute the Zucchini Couscous on serving plates, garnish with a few leaves of fresh basil and enjoy it in all its fragrance!

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