Tabbouleh has become a popular dish the world over, but it was something I was brought up on, being from a Moroccan / Israeli family.
There are some versions of it that I’ve tasted that have just not ‘felt’ right, and I was never able to put my finger on it. Then my husband bought me Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem (a highly recommended cook book!) and his explanation settled it for me; contrary to popular (European) belief, tabbouleh is really a parsley salad, not a bulgar wheat salad. You need way more parsley than you really think, and you need to prepare it correctly.
Ottolenghi suggests washing it in very cold water and slicing instead of chopping it, so that it doesn’t bruise. Following this rule really helped to keep it crisp, and knowing that it was all about the parsley and not so much about the bulgar really changed how I went about making it.
The other ingredients are just as important, such as the juices from the tomatoes, the spices and the mint. You can also add coriander if you want, which I did even though Ottolenghi doesn’t, simply because it’s so good for you so I try to get as much raw parsley and coriander into me as I can.
I’ve basically followed Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe with a few modifications of my own. His older book, Plenty, really started me off when it came to vegetarian cooking with a twist, so I owe a lot to him, really. If you get the book, the first recipe I suggest trying is his vegetarian paella.
This tabbouleh is delicious, zesty and refreshing and screams Middle-East with every mouthful.
90g fine bulgar wheat
4 medium tomatoes, ripe but still firm (600g)
2 medium shallots (60g)
4 large bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley (160g)
2 bunches fresh mint
1 bunch coriander
1 tsp ground allspice
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
120ml top-quality olive oil
Himalayan alt and black pepper
Pomegranate seeds (optional)
Put the bulgar in a fine sieve and put under the cold tap until the water runs clear and most of the starch has been removed. Transfer to a bowl.
Dice the tomatoes and add to the bowl, along with any juices. Chop the shallots as fine as you can and add to the bowl.
Take a few stalks of parsley and pack them together tightly. Use a large, very sharp knife to trim off the end of the stalks, then chop the remaining stems and leaves as finely as possible. Add the parsley to the bowl.
Pack the mint and coriander together and chop as finely as the parsley and add to the bowl. Finally stir in the allspice, lemon juice to taste, olive oil, salt and pepper. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve at room temperature.
If using, sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top before serving.
Love & health,