Couscous Salad with Bacon and Cremini Mushrooms

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Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

This dish combines the deep, earthy flavors of fried bacon and caramelized cremini mushrooms with the crispness of red pepper and green onion. It’s easy to make and gets even better overnight as the flavors mingle.

The salad is dotted with large pieces of crunchy bacon.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

The mushrooms develop a wonderful flavor from a long sizzle in molten bacon fat.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

I love couscous because it’s a snap to cook�and, just like pasta or rice, it has a zillion uses.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

You boil a little water, toss in the couscous, give it a stir, and let it sit—covered and off the heat—for about five minutes. Fluff it up, and it’s good to go. Easier than pie? You better believe it.

All about couscous

Couscous (a.k.a. granular semolina) is a big part of North African and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Traditionally, couscous is steamed in a couscoussiere—a double-decker pot designed just for this purpose.

Couscoussiere at Amazon.com

Couscoussiere

Couscous is placed in the top part of the pot, which is perforated with lots of tiny holes. Meat and veggies are simmered in the bottom of the pot. The flavorful steam rises up from the bottom pot to cook and perfume the couscous. The couscous is served topped with the cooked meat and veggies.

(No, I don’t have a couscoussiere. If I had a ton of extra room…I…might. I can admit that.)

If you’d like to try cooking couscous like this at home, you can improvise pretty well with a fine-mesh strainer covered with a lid and set over a pot.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

What is a cremini mushroom?

Cremini mushrooms are often sold in the U.S. as “baby bellas” or “baby portabellos.” Read a little more about them here at The Kitchn.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

I fully admit that each time I served some of this, I was totally digging for extra pieces of bacon.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Couscous Salad with Bacon and Cremini Mushrooms

6 cups cooked couscous (that’s about 12 oz. of dry couscous)
1 lb. bacon
12 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large, sweet red pepper, diced
2 Tbls. parsley, minced
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1-2 scallions, cut into rings

Serves 4-6

Cook the couscous according the package directions

To ensure that you get the proportions right, read and follow the cooking directions on the specific package of couscous that you bought.

For me, this meant combining water with a little olive oil.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Bring the water up to a boil.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Pour in the couscous.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Give it a stir and cover the pot. Take the pot off the heat. Let it sit, covered, for about 5 minutes.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

After 5 minutes, uncover the pot. Your couscous should have absorbed all the liquid, and should look about like this:

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Grab a fork and rake it across the surface to fluff the couscous up.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

When your couscous is nice and fluffy, set it aside to cool.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Cut up the veggies

Grab your mushrooms. Wipe them down with a damp cloth to get any dirt off them.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Snap off the stems. Discard them if you like, or chop them up and saute them along with the caps.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Slice the mushroom caps into thin-ish pieces. Set them aside.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Remove the seeds and ribs from your red pepper. Cut into strips, then cut into small dice. Set aside (separately from the mushrooms).

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Fry the bacon

Grab your bacon.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Slice it into pieces, like this:

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Cut the pieces a little larger than you want them to actually be in the salad. Remember, bacon shrinks when it cooks.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Put the bacon in a large, non-stick pan on the stove over medium-high heat.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Give it a stir to spread it out. After a minute or two, it should start to fry and let off all sorts of glorious bacon fat.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Fry it like this, stirring occasionally, until it gets nice and crispy.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

You want it to look about like this:

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

When it’s done, transfer the bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

You’ll have a fair amount of bacon fat left in your pan. Pour all but a few tablespoons out. (Save it in a jar in the fridge and use it to fry potatoes!)

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Fry the mushrooms in bacon fat

Toss your sliced mushrooms into the pan with the bacon fat. Set the pan over medium-high heat. Give them a stir to coat with fat.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Sprinkle on a little kosher salt.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

And some freshly cracked black pepper.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Cook like this for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. After a few minutes, they should look like this:

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

And then start to get nice and brown. When they look about like this, scrape them out of the pan into the bowl with your cooked bacon.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Assemble the couscous salad

By now, your couscous should be cool enough to handle. Put it in a large bowl.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the cooked bacon and mushrooms.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Give a stir to mix them into the couscous.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Add the diced red pepper and the minced parsley.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

And the scallions.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Stir to mix well.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Give the couscous a taste. Toss in a little kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, if you like.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors mingle. (Trust me on this one. It’s really good now, but it’ll be even better the next day.)

Serve and enjoy!

Serve as a side dish, or a lighter main dish.

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Enjoy!Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

Cous Cous Salad with Bacon and Caramelized Mushrooms at The Hungry Mouse

 

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

26 COMMENTS

  1. Oh my!

    It’s 00:53 am here, and I’m starving (dinner was yesterday! lol)

    Such a nourishing salad!

    I’ll add this to my list for next week’s meals.

    Thanks for the share 🙂

    • Looks like I just found my new fav web site for recipes!!!
      WOW fantastic. I am going to make this for the hubs and I am going to make the cheesecake this weekend!

      • Oh gosh, thanks so much Josie! Sorry for the late reply…we’re in the middle of moving here at The Mouse House, so I’m behind on my e-mail. How did the cheesecake go?

        +Jessie

        • I made it yesterday and it was fantastic!!! There was a sale at the store on California strawberrys and I made a sauce to go over it MMMM. You are my hero!!!! My son is interested in cooking also I am going to have him pick out a recipe from your site to make. It will really help him with the pics!!!
          Thanks so much
          Josie

  2. Why do shrooms and bacon get top billing when the peppers are such an eye popping visual element? That’s always been a peeve of mine — like you order some dish and onions (scallions, maybe) are in it and if listed, would have completely changed your flavor expectations. Looks cooked to perfection, and you’re a great food photog. But you know. Picky eaters for clear descriptions!

    • Ha! Thanks, honey. 😀

      And I totally know what you mean about recipe names. It’s always a hard decision to figure out what to include, and what to leave out–without making them 8 miles long. I usually go with the most dominant flavors (which the bacon and mushrooms are)…and then hope that folks read the recipe.

      Cheers!
      +Jessie

  3. This sounds wonderful.

    “I fully admit that each time I served some of this, I was totally digging for extra pieces of bacon.”

    I love the fact you love bacon. Ha ha. A subtle hint to use extra bacon? Message received!

  4. made this last night, but with Israeli couscous, and I substituted shrimp for bacon (sauteed the mushrooms in a little butter instead of the bacon fat).

    quite a light and tasty meal!

    love your site…the step-by-step photos and your simple captions are extremely helpful and a welcome change to most of the cooking blogs i read.

    thank you!

  5. I originally made this recipe a few years ago and fell in love with it. Makes me hungry thinking about it. I’m making it tomorrow night for my husband and u can’t wait.

    Love it, it is a perfect recipe!

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