Curried Couscous Salad

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Curried Coucous Salad | Messkit Maven

Creating and producing recipes for this blog on the road is a bit trickier than I had originally thought. I realized that once the days shortened, I didn’t have much light (or any, for that matter) to take photos as I cooked our meals each evening.

Now that we’re in Patagonia, I no longer have an excuse! The sun rises around 5:30 each morning and the sky finally turn dark around 11. It’s like being in Sweden all over again.

Except that the last thing I want to do at the end of a long day of cycling is think about a meal for the blog. And then photograph it. Most of the time, I create, photograph and publish these recipes when we’re taking some time off. This gives more more time to test them and photograph in better light.

Curried Coucous Salad | Messkit Maven

My mom has been making a variation of this curried couscous salad for several years. It’s an easy vegan staple for her to make when Dave and I visit my parents and it’s both delicious and filling. As a bonus, the grain base is interchangeable. We haven’t found couscous in many parts of the world where we’ve traveled, so I’ll sub quinoa, which makes it a great gluten-free option. I’ve also subbed millet before and it turned out delicious.

I asked my mom for the recipe during our tour and made my own amendments, depending on the availability of foods. I’ll add or subtract ingredients as I find them, but I’ve found that this particular version uses items that I’ve been able to find in nearly every European country we visited, and I suspect the same for South America.

Curried Coucous Salad | Messkit Maven

Other than overnight oats for breakfast, this is, without a doubt, my most frequently made recipe of our tour. You may notice a variety of photos of this salad. The reason for that is due to the fact that I’ve made it so many times and when you find beautiful rainbow carrots at a farmers’ market in Slovenia and the lighting in your room is perfect, well, you just have to take a photo.

Curried Coucous Salad | Messkit Maven

This recipe is so simple and so easy to make that I’ll make it for both lunch and dinner. The couscous cooks in our insulated Klean Kanteen food canister while we ride  and other than grating the carrots, slicing an onion, and cutting a lemon in half, there’s little else to prepare. I don’t even boil the water for the couscous – I simply ask a restaurant to put hot water an inch above the top of the couscous, seal the canister, and go on our way. Or, I can simply fill it with water from the tap and go on my way. Couscous is magical in that regard.

Curried Coucous Salad | Messkit Maven

You can toast the cashews and pepitas if you like – and I do recommend it – but if you don’t feel like getting out your stove for the evening, just toss everything together and it tastes just as delightful.

Remember, all of these recipes are use what you have available to you, wherever in the world you may be. In the US, we can find practically anything we want, anytime of the year, anywhere we are. That’s not the case around the world and it can sometimes take some creativity to create similar meals to what I’m used to preparing at home.

And this one is incredibly versatile.

Suggested substitutions for when you can’t find these exact ingredients:
  • For the grains: if you can’t find couscous, use quinoa (which will cook faster if soaked), or millet.
  • If you can’t find cashews, try Brazil nuts, chopped almonds, or walnuts
  • No dried cranberries? You can find raisins everywhere, or dried currants would be a great substitution.
  • Pepitas can be expensive or tough to find around the world. You can use sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, or sesame seeds as an alternative.

This curried couscous salad comes together in minutes with very little effort. And it is SO so good. 

Curried Coucous Salad | Messkit Maven


Curried Couscous Salad
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins

This curried couscous salad comes together effortlessly. The couscous cooks itself in an insulated canister and the ingredients are mostly found just about anywhere you may find yourself, but if they're not, feel free to substitute for what you can find.

Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: gluten-free options, no-cook, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 2
Author: Jen Sotolongo
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 1 small red onion thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • cup pepitas toasted, if preferred
  • cup cashews toasted, if preferred
  • ¼ cup lemon juice from 1-2 lemons, depending on size
  • cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. In the morning, fill an insulated canister with the couscous and water. Stir with a spoon to distribute the water. Cover and let sit while you ride or hike.
  2. When you’re ready to prepare the salad, empty the couscous into a bowl or your camping pot and add the carrots, onions, cranberries or raisins, pepitas, and cashews.
  3. If toasting the pepitas and cashews, get out your camp stove and set to medium heat. Add the cashews, pepitas and a pinch of salt to a pan and stir constantly for 4-5 minutes, until the cashews start to brown and the pepitas begin to pop.
  4. In the same canister you used to cook the couscous, add the dressing ingredients. Seal the lid and give it a good shake. Pour over the salad and gently toss. Serve and enjoy!

Curried Coucous Salad | Messkit Maven


24 thoughts on “Curried Couscous Salad”

  • You don’t know me but I have been peeking through the window for a while. 🙂 My husband and I want do something similar as you two + dog have been doing. Glad to see the post, as I have been following along for the last 6 months. I am always glad to see you are safe! 🙂

    • Hi Carol! Thanks so much for reaching out. That’s awesome that you and your husband are considering a similar journey. Feel free to reach out any time with questions about anything!

  • I wish my wife could eat curry. This looks like an amazing dish. I will share this with my friends and add to a cookbook I’m working on, if you are okay with that!

    Continued safe travels!

    • That is very sad that Michelle can’t eat curry! Is it just the spice? Perhaps you could leave out the chili powder and just mix cumin and turmeric. Thanks for sharing with friends, and of course you can add it to a cookbook you’re working on. Curious to know more about that project!

    • I LOVE my food canister. I use it at least several times a week if not for cooking grains, then for soaking things like rice and lentils to help them cook a bit more quickly. Thanks so much for following along, Megan!

  • Your salad looks amazing and pretty simple to throw together. I think I’ll pin it for one of those days when I’m really wanting to try something new!

    • Thanks Tamara! It’s a great meal for those days you really don’t feel like cooking, but want something a little different. Let me know if you try it!

  • This salad looks delicious! Richard is allergic to onions, depending on the recipe we often substitute leek or celery. For this salad I’m not sure what the best alternative is, any suggestions?

    • Allergic to onions! That would be so tough for cooking, though I guess you get used to it! I think leeks would be great and celery could work as well, though I don’t like celery myself, so I can’t say for sure. It would add that crunch, though! If he can have shallots or green onions, that would work, too.

  • Charlotte’s mother posting here…tried the curried couscous salad this evening and “Younger Sister” and I are definite fans! I did use a little less than the recommended amount of curry – our taste buds are hesitant with that spice – but that was it. We thought we’d best try this while Charlotte’s dad is out of town with her on their annual AZ trip. He’d be asking where the meat was! Yes, a burden with which I must live. 🙂 *sigh* Truly enjoy your website and appreciate the the time and effort you put into sharing your travels with us. Many thanks.

    • Hi Jean! I’m so glad that you gave it a try and enjoyed it! This makes me so happy. When I meet your husband some day, I’ll whip up some meals that will make him forget the meat! 😉 Thanks so much for following along and trying out my recipes.

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