Pearls of Wisdom

Some dishes just have no right to be so good. They’re too simple, too ordinary, too easy to yield such spectacular results. No matter how uninspired the ingredients look on paper, a jolt of bold flavor belies such humble components. It’s the kind of dish that makes you wonder what magic has conspired in the kitchen, or perhaps, some secret MSG is spiking the punch.

Such is the case for the curried couscous salad at Mendocino Farms. The creamy, golden yellow pasta pearls don’t even look vegan at a glance, but lo! Clear labels reassure eaters that it’s vegan mayonnaise carrying the torch.

Decadent to a degree that would make the average side salad blush, a large part of me wants to hate it on principle. One should never add sugar to a savory dish, and at such a lethal dose! Mayonnaise should be used sparingly at best, a breezy whisper across a slice of bread, barely detectable by the human eye. Then, to go ahead an add even more oil on top of that fatty spread sounds purely excessive, unnecessary, uncalled for, hedonistic in the worst kind of way…!

But, falling prey to the offer of a free sample, I cast all common sense to the wind, letting go of those ingrained notions of decency just long enough to get hooked. I can’t get enough, and I don’t quite know why.

Perhaps the appeal is exactly for all those reasons. It’s because it flies in the face of preconceived boundaries of health and balance, that somehow, it manages to simply WORK.

I can’t claim to understand the compelling appeal of the curried couscous salad, but I can’t deny it, either.

Yield: Makes 10 Servings

Mendocino Farms’ Curried Couscous

Mendocino Farms’ Curried Couscous

Inexplicably addictive, this creamy, highly spiced pasta salad blows all other starchy side dishes out of the water. Make a big splash with a bowlful of curried couscous; bring this dish to your next potluck or dinner party, and don't expect any leftovers.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 Pound Pearl or Israeli Couscous
  • 1 Head Cauliflower, Florets Finely Diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Madras Curry Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Small Carrots, Peeled and Finely Diced
  • 1 Cup Vegan Mayonnaise
  • 1 Cup Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice


    1. Cook the couscous until al dente, according to the instructions on the package. Rinse thoroughly in cold water, drain well, place in a large bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

    2. In a separate bowl, toss the cauliflower with the curry powder, turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne, brown sugar and oil. Spread out on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven until cauliflower is browned around the edges but still crunchy, about 10 minutes. Remove just the cauliflower and put it in the bowl with the pasta.

    3. On the same rimmed baking sheet, place the carrots and, using a spatula, toss the carrots with the leftover spices and oil. Roast the carrots until brown around the edges but still crunchy, about 8 minutes. Add to the couscous.

    4. Fold in the vegan mayonnaise, cilantro and lime juice with the pasta. Taste, and adjust spices and seasoning if desired. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.


Recipe lightly adapted from the LA Times

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 414mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 4g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.

8 thoughts on “Pearls of Wisdom

  1. It’s been ages since I’ve had Israeli couscous! This looks like such a flavorful dish too – a must try for sure.

    1. Big hit in our household. I’ve made it 3 weekends in a row. So tasty!! I haven’t been able to take my family to the restaurant yet but this is a great introduction to their fabulous menu.. Thank you!!!

      1. Wow, I’m so thrilled to hear that! Now I want to hunt down more of their “secret” recipes to share. :)

    1. Certainly! My top recommendation would be unsweetened, plain vegan yogurt. You could also try blended silken tofu with a bit of extra oil for richness.

  2. I love this from the restaurant. Will try making it soon. Since this is just a side, what do you guys make to eat alongside it? Not really sure what cuisine really matches with this.

    1. Good question! I think of it like pasta salad, so I usually serve it with something like roasted vegetables and meatless sausages, or burgers and such.

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