Cold Soaked Couscous Salad

by Melanie Sampson

Oftentimes while summer hiking, I find myself craving something cold, something fresh, something crunchy – something “salad-y”. While I have been known to stuff my pack and lug around heavy tomatoes, cucumber and peppers to get my fix, with a bit of trial and error and my trusty dehydrator, I’ve found that a cold soaked couscous or quinoa salad can usually satisfy my craving, while also making for a quick and fuss free lunch. Typically, I’ll mix the dehydrated salad and cold water into a Hydroflask or Mylar bag before setting out for the day, allowing the salad to soak for a few hours while I hike.

This is one of my favourite dehydrated meals that allows for a lot of wiggle room in the recipe to add or omit different ingredients to keep things interesting while out on the trail. Feel free to follow this recipe as it is, or use it as a loose guideline to create your own unique dish that suits your own palate and adheres to any dietary restrictions or preferences that you may have.

When making these couscous bowls, you can dehydrate each individual ingredient separately and then divide all ingredients into four servings; alternatively, you can mix all ingredients together before dehydrating (I find this to be the easiest way to go). If you choose to dehydrate each ingredient on its own, it is best not to chop the spinach or basil. Instead, dehydrate whole spinach and basil leaves and once they’re dried, crumble them with your hands. For a bit of extra delicious fat, add some crumbled feta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil to your prepared meal once it’s time to eat. Enjoy!

Cold Soaked Couscous Salad

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 cup uncooked couscous, medium grain*
  • 1 cup tomato, chopped**
  • 1 cup cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, finely chopped***
  • 3/4 cup black pitted olives, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 or 6 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

*for an extra punch of flavour and nutrition, cook your couscous in chicken or vegetable stock instead of water
**sun-dried tomatoes are also yummy, if you have them on hand
***zucchini can be raw or roasted

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