Tabouleh is one of my favourite salads, and it has been for as long as I can remember. For me, it is magic salad. A friend recently asked on facebook: ‘what food when you eat it today takes you back to your childhood?’ My immediate response was Spaghetti Hoops, but actually, it is tabouleh, known to my childhood self as ‘magic salad.’ When you are little, I guess absorption is a bit hard to comprehend. Even though I now understand that the water covering the bulgur wheat doesn’t magically disappear, the associations of excitement and wonder remain.
As they say in Jerusalem, ‘If you want to find a good husband, you’d better learn how to chop your parsley properly.’
Tabouleh is all about the parsley. I cook with a lot of parsley, obviously I am just trying to perfect the chopping method. Traditionally tabouleh is mostly herbs with a little bulgur wheat, but my recipe is more similar to my mother’s, which uses a higher ratio of bulgur wheat. This makes the salad a little more substantial and a little less time-consuming (the herbs take ages to pick and shred properly). Also like my mother and unlike the Ottolenghi/ Tamimi recipe, I don’t put any spices in the tabouleh. I use spices in most of my cooking, so it is nice to have a side salad that is really fresh-tasting, to balance with the rest of the meal.
Dried apricot and spring onion tabouleh, serves 6 - 8
150g bulgur wheat
1-2 cloves of garlic (depending on your social plans for the rest of the day), crushed
Big punch of fresh parsley, about 100 - 150g, leaves picked and chopped (a little stalk is fine)
Fresh mint, about half a small pack 15 – 20g, leaves picked and chopped
3-4 spring onions, finely sliced (greens as well as white)
handful of dried apricots, diced (I buy these ready-diced. It costs the same and they are coated in a little rice flour so that they don’t stick to anything)
2 – 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon, more if you want
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the bulgur wheat in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water as if you were making couscous. Leave for about 10 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the bulgur wheat is cooked but still al dente. Drain off the excess water and while the bulgur wheat is still warm, add the garlic and olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the other ingredients – adding extra lemon juice and olive oil if you want to. Tabouleh gets better over time, and I normally leave it for a day before digging in.
Cucumber and tomato (finely diced)
Pomegranate, red onion and crispy fried shallots