This simple recipe is a fun, healthy take on the classic caprese salad and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. It’s the perfect side dish for your next BBQ!
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If you’re looking for the perfect summer side dish to contribute to your next get-together, look no further than this Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous! It’s sturdier than your average caprese salad and feeds more people, too. Even with a homemade hazelnut pesto, the whole thing comes together in less than 30 minutes.
Why This Recipe Works
- It comes together in no time at all. I’ve mentioned it already but it’s worth mentioning again – we’re talking less than 30 minutes from start to finish, even with a from-scratch pesto.
- It’s easily transportable. It’ll go from the kitchen to the patio to the beach without getting soggy or limp like a classic caprese salad.
- It uses simple ingredients.
- The entire family will approve. Even the pickiest of palates will find this recipe delicious.
- It can be served cold. No reheating needed!
Ingredients You’ll Need
First, you’ll need to gather the ingredients for the homemade hazelnut pesto:
Hazelnuts – I love the unique taste that hazelnuts lend this pesto, but you can really use other nuts as well, like pine nuts or almonds. No matter which nuts you use, be sure to toast them first to bring out the absolute best flavors in your pesto.
Fresh basil – Using the freshest basil you can find is the key to a bright and flavorful pesto.
You can see we keep this particular pesto cheese-free because we’ll be adding lots of cheese to the salad itself!
After you’ve made the pesto, there are just a few additional ingredients for the rest of the salad:
Ciliegine – These are those tiny mozzarella balls you can find floating in their liquid (as shown in the photo). You could also use sliced mozzarella if you can’t find the ciliegine.
Cooked Israeli couscous – While your typical couscous is light and fluffy, Israeli couscous is larger and denser, which allows it to hold up well to the other bright yet rich ingredients in this recipe. Find it at your favorite grocery store next to the regular couscous and cook the required amount according to package directions.
Heirloom tomatoes – You can really use any tomatoes here, I just love the different colors of Heirlooms. Use your best judgment and pick out whichever tomatoes look best to you at the store!
You’ll first want to make your hazelnut pesto. Start by adding all of the pesto ingredients (minus the olive oil) to a food processor or blender:
Once you’ve pulsed these ingredients together for a bit, slowly stream in the olive oil.
Your end result should look something like this:
Once your pesto is made, all that’s left to do is mix it and the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve!
Feel free to cook the couscous up to two days in advance of putting the salad together. You can make the pesto in advance, but I would only recommend a couple of hours or so. Store both in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble.
What’s the best way to transport this dish?
This dish is best transported in a large bowl or glass container with a resealable lid. Once you get to your destination, feel free to transfer to a serving bowl (if desired) and add some fresh basil leaves or a few more tomato slices to jazz it up a bit.
Yes! You can use any kind of nut you like, but I highly recommend pine nuts or almonds as an alternative.
There are two options: You can either toast them in a small pan over medium-low heat until lightly browned and fragrant, or you can place them on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 minutes (until fragrant). Let them cool slightly before adding to the pesto.
More Recipes You’ll Love
Whether you’re looking for a simple recipe to make your family for dinner or something you can bring to your next BBQ or get-together, these recipes will fill the bill!
In the mood for another hearty salad? Try this Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad.
In love with all things caprese? How about this Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto?
If you’re looking for a fun appetizer to precede your summer meal, try these Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini.
A summer cookout cannot be complete without a tasty dessert. Give this Fresh Mint Dark Chocolate Chip Ice Cream a shot!
Tried this recipe and loved it?? Be sure to leave a comment and five-star rating in the recipe card below!
Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous
For the pesto:
- 2 cups fresh basil
- ¼ cup hazelnuts toasted
- 2 cloves garlic
- Juice of ½ of a large lemon
- ¾ cup olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
All other ingredients:
- 2 cups cooked Israeli couscous cook according to package directions
- 5 medium heirloom tomatoes cut into thin wedges
- 8 ounces ciliegine mozzarella
- Salt to taste
- Place all pesto ingredients except olive oil in a food processor or blender. Pulse until mixture begins to come together, then stream in the olive oil while the processor or blender is running. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl, combine couscous, tomatoes and mozzarella. Stir in pesto and season with salt if needed. Enjoy or refrigerate until ready to eat!
- Feel free to try other grains (such as quinoa and farro) in place of the couscous. You could also go with a classic pasta.
- If using couscous, Israeli couscous will give you a heartier texture while standard couscous will be more light and fluffy. Feel free to use either based on your preference!
- You can also sub in any kind of nut you prefer (or have on hand) for the hazelnuts in the pesto.
- Feel free to cook the couscous up to two days in advance and prepare the pesto up to a few hours in advance.