Basically tabbouleh is just a parsley salad.
Quite often you might just want a bit of parsley to garnish something or to add extra flavour to a stew or to make herb dumplings. But it’s not usually possible to buy a couple of sprigs of parsley. More likely you end up with a fairly big bunch of it – so what to do rather than wasting it? Make tabbouleh! Here’s a very simple recipe that’s quick and easy to make.
- A bunch of parsley
(It’s more traditional to make tabbouleh using flat leaf parsley but I made mine, which is pictured above, from curly leaf parsley. It doesn’t really make much difference.)
- A small red onion or a couple of spring onions
(The amount depends on how much you like onions.)
- A couple of tomatoes
- A handful of burghul wheat
(I didn’t have any so I substituted couscous, which worked fine. To be honest, you can still make a tasty parsley salad without either of these.)
- Mint leaves
(I cheated by adding a couple of teaspoons of mint sauce from a jar.)
- A lemon
(Again, something else that I didn’t have so I used lime.)
- An oil and vinegar dressing – see method below
First prepare your burghul or couscous according to the instructions on the packet. This is usually a simple case of pouring boiling water over it and letting it stand for a while to soften. You might as well do this first so that it’s ready for use when you’ve done the other tasks.
Remove the stalks from the parsley and discard them. (You can of course use them for various other things such as making stock etc, but we don’t want them in our tabbouleh.) Wash and finely chop the parsley. Bung it in a mixing bowl.
Finely chop your onion and dice the tomatoes. Bung them into the bowl too.
Now for the dressing, it’s very important to have a flavoursome dressing or you might as well forget making tabbouleh as it’ll just be a bland offering. There are lots of fancy recipes around for making a basic vinaigrette, but I like Jamie Oliver’s very simple method. Basically he says to start with one part vinegar to three parts oil, season with salt and pepper, put it into a small jar and give it a good shake to emusify it. Easy! Taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary – add more oil if it’s too vinegary etc.
Obviously better quality oils and vinegars produce better quality dressings. For my tabbouleh I used olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Add the dressing to the salad and give it a good mix. Jamie recommends using your (clean!) fingers for this process but I seem to manage fine with a wooden spoon.
Now add your chopped mint leaves (or mint sauce). I started with one teaspoon but after tasting the result I added another. Always be guided by your own taste!
Finally squeeze the lemon or lime juice in and taste. Add more if you like, and more salt and pepper if necessary. It sounds like a bit of a faff but once you’re in the habit of making your own vinaigrette and salad dressings, it’s really quick and easy to make a tasty tabbouleh.