Tabbouleh

I’m not at all sure when I tasted tabbouleh the first time…but, I am certain I loved it right away. This grain-based salad is packed full of greens, mint, parsley, sliced spring onions, tomatoes and cucumbers – then tossed with a simple dressing of lemon juice and high quality extra virgin olive oil.

See what I mean…how could anything with these ingredients taste bad?

Tabbouleh is typically referred to as a middle-eastern dish, but I think a broader title is more appropriate. So, I just call it a Mediterranean-style salad because it has variations that are similar no matter where you are on the Mediterranean. Typically, the salad is made with couscous or Bulgar wheat (a parched grain made from wheat berries which have been steamed, dried and cracked). I find quinoa and millet work perfectly well as gluten-free alternatives.

Anytime I make one of these grains for something else, I always try to make a bit more so I can have a tasty salad as well! My version of the salad is flexible and easily adaptable to whatever you have on hand. But remember, the quality of your ingredients really matter – so make sure you’re not just cleaning out the refrigerator with…shall we say…older products!

Yield: makes about 6-8 servings

  • 500 grams (about one pound) cooked grains
  • 1 large bunch rocket (rucola)
  • 1 large bunch parsley (i like the flat leaf variety)
  • 1 bunch fresh mint (i like peppermint)
  • 1 bunch chives or wild garlic (when available)
  • 1 bunch spring onions, sliced thin
  • 1 medium cucumber, chopped
  • about 25 small ripe tomatoes, halved
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • juice of 1 or 2 lemons
  • roughly 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Begin by placing your cooked grains into a wide pan or bowl.
  • Chop all your greens and herbs – leave them a bit rough and resist chopping them too fine. Remember, this is a salad!
  • Add the sliced spring onions, chopped cucumbers and sliced tomatoes. Gently toss everything together.
  • Pour the lemon juice and olive oil over the salad and toss again to combine the dressing and ingredients. Adjust the seasoning and serve right away.

Jack’s Fresh Tip

Make sure your cooked grains are relatively dry or they will clump up into mushy yuck (that’s a professional term). I like to work a bit of oil into the grains before mixing in the other ingredients. Just rub your hands with extra virgin olive oil (did I mention earlier how important is to use a high-quality oil?) and begin rubbing the grains between your hands and letting them just cascade into a nice fluffy mass.

When dressing the salad with oil and lemon juice, begin with the lesser amount of lemon juice, mix the salad well and wait ten minutes. Taste again and see if you would like more lemon. Personally, I like a bit of zing, so I am usually adding more lemon.

I like to keep the salad at room temperature for as long as possible. You can refrigerate it for one or perhaps 2 nights, but no more.

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