not tabouleh


I’ve got to say that before all my Lebanese friends come after me, pelting me with falafels (which I maybe wouldn’t mind as much as I should). Real tabouleh is made with parsley, bulgur wheat, lemon juice, spring onion and mint. Calling this tabouleh would be like saying sushi is Chinese because it’s made with rice. Big no-no.

But as potentially culturally offensive as this little salad is, the ingredients were what I had in the fridge when I came home at about 8pm after a day of hardcore shopping and I certainly was not about to traipse out to get anything else. I very nearly reached for the pasta and sauce, but I didn’t, and I’m glad. This dish tastes wonderful – zingy and fresh and healthy – so I’m going to post it here for you to enjoy under the proviso that you all understand that calling it tabouleh would be a mistake, a misrepresentation, an egregious error.

The Not-Tabouleh Salad
Bunch of parsley, chopped
Two tomatoes, finely chopped
Quarter of a red onion, very finely chopped
3 tbsp of couscous
Juice of one lime
Olive oil

Parsley is wonderfully springy and robust, but the key is to get it as dry as humanly possible before chopping it, otherwise it ends up in a soggy mess. You can just use paper towels to pat the leaves after you’ve washed it. I know people who use a salad spinner to get it really dry before chopping it, which is great but a little Mission Impossible for the small kitchen.

When chopping parsley, grab the stalks and chop from the leaves down. Get it right the first time because the ‘running the knife through again’ technique that I often use to make things are properly chopped doesn’t really fly with parsley – you can end up bruising the leaves and they get soggy. In any case, don’t fret if there are one or two leaves sticking out at the end. Make sure you’ve chopped enough that the parsley salad is really about the parsley, not the couscous.

Combine the parsley, couscous, tomato and onion (I’m not wild about raw onion, so I only used a quarter, but use your judgement). I don’t like lashings of olive oil dripping everywhere so I used just the tiniest drizzle and then squeezed the lime juice over. Mix well and serve by itself, or with romaine lettuce leaves.

I may have also helped myself to the world’s largest scoop of hummus. Why not?


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