Tabbouleh our way (V,Vg)
Variations on the same theme
Tabbouleh is a super easy, super fresh, super summery, super delicious and super underrated salad originally from Lebanon. It has a lot of different variations, but some ingredients such as mint, onions, bulgur or semolina are indispensable to give Tabbouleh its name. The recipe of tabbouleh below is the one my mum usually makes in summer – just like it always is present on a mezze platter, it is always present on our table. It is an accompaniment to anything, from stuffed vegetables to quiche, but it can also be the main dish of a light dinner; it is zingy, colourful and refreshing but simple and plain enough so everyone likes it. I have not met anyone – yet, maybe – who has had this tabbouleh and didn’t like it, but pass if mint is not your cup of tea ! Or make it without.
Oh, those summer nights
As tabbouleh is a salad, and is enjoyed cold, it comes back late spring – the air is getting hotter, the sun is shinier, and the days are longer. We’ve had quite good weather lately in London; it only lasts a couple of days at a time, but it’s enough to start thinking about sundresses, barbecue and summery salads, especially as we’re still in lockdown.
Ollie and I are lucky enough to have a garden, and we’ve been spending a lot of time in it recently. We’ve planted some vegetables and fruits: “no better feeling than eating what you’ve grown in your garden” our neighbour told us, and we can’t agree more. We’ve planted chard, runner beans, radish, carrots, cucumber, spring onions, beetroots, courgettes, pumpkin, corn and lettuce and they’re all slowly growing in our raised beds (raised and fenced as our hens would love to trash, ahem, explore them!), and on the fruit side, we have raspberry, strawberry and rhubarb. We haven’t harvested anything yet, but I can’t wait.
In the meantime, we’ve started a subscription box called Odd box and we’re excited to receive our small box of rescued fruits and veges every Friday and to find ways to use them and to cook with them. They end up in our box either because their shape or size is unsuitable for the supermarket shelves (what a waste!) or because farmers have surplus. It’s seasonal fruits and veg, and from British farmers when possible. I really recommend ! Nothing is packed in plastic unless necessary (lettuce or grapes, most of the time) and they taste as good, if not better, as the one you would pick up in the supermarket.
Last time, we received a very colourful box and there was a very wonky cucumber, some small tomatoes and a lot of red onions amongst other things. I wasn’t sure how to use them, until the sun started to shine and the thermometer indicated 23 degrees: yep, time for a tabbouleh !
Tabbouleh our way
So by now you know that our tabbouleh involves cucumber, tomatoes and red onions. The other actors of the show are: mint, lemon, olive oil and couscous (and salt and pepper of course). And because I absolutely love sweet and savoury, I mix a few sultanas in; it adds a bit of sweetness to the acidity of the lemon and the sharpness of the mint, and it’s am-a-zing. Right, time to tuck in, hope you enjoy it !
Lebanese cold salad
- 1 red onion
- A handful of mint leaves
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tomatoes
- 1/2 cucumber
- Salt and pepper To taste
- A handful of sultanas
- 65 g couscous
First, put the couscous into a salad bowl, and press the lemon over it to cover the couscous with the juice - if one lemon isn't enough to cover the couscous, press another one. Put a place over the salad bowl, and set aside.
In the meantime, peel and dice the red onion. Wash and dice the tomatoes. Peel and dice the cucumber. Wash the mint leaves, and chop roughly.
Have a look at your couscous; it should have absorbed all the lemon juice and doubled in size. Add the olive oil then mix with a fork to make the couscous fluffy and moist.
Add your onion, mint tomatoes and cucumber, salt and pepper to taste - and add more olive oil if you fancy!. Sprinkle the sultanas on top, et voila !
If you have a bit of time, it's great to put it in the fridge for an hour or so - the couscous continue to absorb the juice of the tomatoes and cucumber, and makes it extra flavoursome. And also extra refreshing !