Tabouli was one of the first salads I ever ate when I was young. My grandmother, or Sito in Lebanese, always had a heaping bowl of it ready-in-waiting whenever we dropped by, like her tin of Peek Frean cookies that never seemed to deplete in stock. At every holiday dinner or event at the house of a relative, tabouli was also featured on the menu. To a child, the salad represented a colourful and visually appealing ensemble of greens and reds; as an adult, it is a healthy and tasty alternative to other side dishes.
Every weekend I now make a bowl-ful of tabouli that lasts me for several lunches and dinners during the week; and although it’s probably getting old and tiresome, I typically bring tabouli to every potluck I’m invited to. It’s different that the usual potato salad or nanaimo bars that I used to bring, and is just so easy to make – 15 minutes…and voila!
Note that there are many different ways to make this salad – each time is usually different for me depending on what I have in the fridge.
3/4 cup uncooked bulgur or couscous
1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley (2-3 bunches)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced right down to an inch above the root
1/2 cup large English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup radishes, cleaned and finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice (roughly 1 lemon)
3/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
Seeds from half a pomegranate (optional)
Tip for getting the seeds from the pomegranate: I learned that it is easier and less messy to cut the fruit into quarters and then to handle them under a bowl of water. You won’t end up with red stains on your shirt or countertop and the seeds, being heavier than the white flesh, will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
1. Cover bulgur with cold water and let sit for 30 minutes, then drain. Press out as much of the water as you can.
2. If using couscous instead of bulgur, cooking directions for couscous are to use double the amount of water as the amount of couscous. Bring the water alone to a boil, then add dry couscous. Immediately remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes to allow couscous to absorb water. Fluff with a fork.
3. Place bulgur (or couscous), parlsey, green onion, cucumber, radishes, mint (and pomegranate, optional) in bowl.
4. In a tightly covered container, shake together the remaining ingredients then pour over mixture and toss.
5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 90 minutes for flavours to blend
A side note: a couple of bunches of parsley make for great, spring-like bouquets on your countertop