Tabbouleh is one of my favourite cold dishes. It is incredibly versatile and goes well as an accompaniment to many things, as well as being nice to eat all by itself.
Some people like to use couscous to make tabbouleh, but it really needs to be made with bulghur wheat, which is widely available.
Some recipes suggest that you need to pre-soak the bulghur in boiled water to soften it and others say to just soak it in olive oil and lemon juice. Personally, I prefer to pre-soak it.
The most important ingredients to turn your bulghur into a proper salad are green herbs, olive oil and lemon juice, probably twice as much lemon juice as you think you’ll need. I’ve eaten tabbouleh in Lebanese restaurants that is so packed with parsley and mint that it is almost completely green. I think that it is lovely like that, but I also like it with fewer herbs and more other ingredients. I think that chopped cucumber and tomatoes are essential and I also like chopped red onions.
Other things you can add might include toasted pine nuts, chopped pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, soaked sultanas, semi-dried chopped apricots, chopped dill and olives. These may not all be authentic but they certainly add flavour and texture. I also like cubes of feta cheese in my tabbouleh sometimes.
I am not going to give any precise measurements here, it is really up to anyone to experiment and find what works for them. The important thing is to get the olive oil and lemon juice absorbed into the wheat and have the chopped mint and parsley well-incorporated before you add anything else.
As you can see, I topped off last night’s tabbouleh with some Kalamata olives and marinated cheese-stuffed red and green chillies.
We had this as an accompaniment for some griddled lamb chops. It would have also been lovely with some sheftalia or maybe some chicken kebabs. I also like it with baked fish. Like I said at the beginning, tabbouleh is incredibly versatile.