Tabbouleh is a light and refreshing Arabic salad that is wonderful as part of a mezze, particularly with barbecued meat. I have made and eaten a lot of tabbouleh over the years varying, adding and taking away ingredients; Pomegranate, sesame seeds, feta, onion, molasses and sage have all made an appearance at some point.
The one constant is that it is a parsley salad and the parsley should be a key component (I have eaten too many tabbouleh’s that are mainly bulgar with a bit of parsley sprinkled on top). I go between medium and fine bulgar depending on mood / what is available. They both work very well; the courser bulgar adding some extra texture and acting as a sponge for the juices. The fine is more traditional, gives a more delicate finish and is more in tune with the other ingredients; meaning one is not standing out more than the other but balancing together. You can also play with the amounts; 2 bunches of parsley, less bulgar or vice versa.
The herbs should be carefully and thinly chopped for best results. Also this salad should be hand chopped, so as not to bruise the herbs or end up with a parsley mush.
Pick the leaves from the stalks and bunch tightly together with your fingers and slice as close as you can without risking a finger. This salad is really excellent chopping practice.
Serves 4 as a Mezze / side dish
1 large bunch of parsley
1 bunch of mint (optional)
Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate (optional)
75g fine or medium bulgar wheat
Juice of 2/3 lemons
2 large tomatoes
1 tsp of ground all spice berries
Spice mix; 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp sumac.
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
Peel the skin off the tomatoes. If you do not have a sharp enough peeler, soak the tomatoes in boiling for 5 minutes. The skins should almost fall off. De seed the tomato and very finely dice. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and pomegranate molasses to the tomatoes, followed by the ground all spice and 3 level tsp of the spice mix to tomatoes and combine everything. set aside for the juices to absorb the spices.
If you are using fine bulgar rinse with cold water for a minute under the tap. For regular bulgar simmer it in boiling water for 2/3 minutes, drain and refresh with cold water. Fluff the grains with a fork. Add the bulgar to the tomatoes.
Rinse the parsley in cold water and pat dry. Finely chop as above. The mint needs to be carefully picked from the stalks and also finely chopped in one direction if using. Mint is very delicate and will blacken easily, therefore slice carefully and tightly in one direction.
Add the fresh herbs to the tomatoes and combine everything. Taste it and add more of the spice mix, salt and lemon juice to your taste.
Sprinkle with pomegranate and sesame seeds if using before serving.