Warm Couscous Salad With Salmon and Mustard-Dill Dressing Recipe

An under 30-minute dish that's perfect for a picnic or weeknight meal.

A plate of warm couscous salad with salmon and mustard-dill dressing.

Serious Eats / Yasmin Fahr

Why It Works

  • Cooking the salmon first allows it to rest while the couscous cooks.
  • Making the dressing in the serving bowl means one less dish to wash.

I don't know who first put dill, mustard, and salmon together, but they were clearly a culinary genius. Or at least a really smart cook. It's a common combination, and with good reason—the bold, grassy-sweet flavor of the dill and the tangy mustard team up to offset the fatty salmon for a supremely balanced effect.

In this recipe, I put to use my foolproof salmon-cooking skills to cook two hefty salmon fillets—the results are moist and tender fillets with crispy skin. Then, while the salmon is resting, I simply wipe out the pan and get the couscous base going. Once cooked and off the heat, I mix spinach, dill, and flaked salmon into the pasta-like pearls, allowing the couscous to fluff while wilting the spinach and re-heating the salmon (and satisfying my need for efficiency—this is also when I begin giving myself imaginary high-fives).

Finished couscous salad with salmon and dill on a plate.

Serious Eats / Yasmin Fahr

Serving the dish while still hot makes for a great weeknight meal, but it tastes equally delicious chilled. Especially when you're eating it while sitting on a picnic blanket in the middle of a breezy park meadow.

August 2014

Recipe Facts



Active: 25 mins
Total: 25 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 2 (8-ounce) salmon fillets, preferably wild

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced

  • 6 ounces pearled couscous

  • 3 cups homemade vegetable stock or store-bought low-sodium vegetable broth

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon

  • 1/2 cup picked dill, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish

  • 1 1/2 cups spinach leaves, chopped in half if large, or left whole if baby


  1. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Heat 1/3 cup oil in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon, skin-side down, and immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, pressing down gently with a spatula to ensure contact, until skin is rendered and crisp, about 6 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, allow it to continue to cook until it lifts easily.

  2. Flip salmon and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 120°F (49°C) for medium rare or 130°F (54°C) for medium, about 1 minute longer. Transfer salmon to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool. Once cooled, flake salmon using your hands; discard skin.

  3. Meanwhile, wipe out skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shallot and a pinch of salt and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add couscous and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, stirring to combine, and adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed and couscous is tender. Strain any excess liquid.

  4. In a large serving bowl, mix together mustard and lemon juice. Stir in couscous, along with dill and spinach, stirring to fluff the couscous and wilt the spinach. Stir in flaked salmon and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with dill and serve right away.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
551 Calories
39g Fat
20g Carbs
30g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 551
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 39g 51%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 71mg 24%
Sodium 752mg 33%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 30g
Vitamin C 19mg 95%
Calcium 140mg 11%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 960mg 20%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)