Every so often I get this mammoth craving for tabbouleh. There is just something so utterly satisfying about this Middle Eastern delight. Tiny pearls of pasta, fragrant olive oil, bright and tangy lemon juice and the colorful confetti of finely diced tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and parsley. Gasp! No mint you say?! How unorthodox to leave out such an integral part of tabbouleh! Well even more disgruntling for some would be that I use couscous rather than traditional bulghur. Now one can argue about the exact origins of Tabbouleh, (most agree on Lebanon) or its precise ingredients (some add cinnamon), I prefer to let them argue while I conjure up my own adaptation of this dish. There is nothing wrong with adding mint, in fact it is something I do when I happen to have some on hand. It all comes down to a matter of taste, and there is little I love more than the sublime combination of lemon juice and olive oil. They are the stars of this dish. The absorbent couscous soaks up every last drop of juice and oil. The contrast of silky couscous and crisp cucumbers is like a party in your mouth. The tomatoes add their seductive red tinge to the dish, where the scallions and parsley lend their delicate flavors.
The wonderful thing about this dish is that it is simply thrown together , no recipe needed, no measuring involved. You add as much as you like of any chosen ingredient. Tabbouleh is so versatile that it can be paired with anything, chicken, steak, falafel, fish. This particular batch made its debut last night alongside a grilled filet of flaky tilapia, sauced with creamy mushrooms and scallions. I must admit, my favorite way to savor this dish is simply on its own. I take great delight in large spoonfuls of this fluffy, citrus and savory creation.
Tabbouleh (My Way):
- 1 box couscous, original flavor
- 3 tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
- 3 small cucumbers or 1 large finely diced
- 3 scallions, finely sliced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 large handful parsley, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Cook the couscous according to the box. Fluff with a fork to separate the pearls, season with salt and pepper to taste and allow to cool. In a large bowl, combine the chopped vegetables with the couscous and drizzle with several swirls of olive oil. Pour in the lemon juice and then toss to coat. Season again if necessary, cover and set in the fridge to allow flavors to meld.