Friday, September 3, 2010

The Very Best Tabbouleh

If you are vegan, you are almost certain to have eaten tabbouleh, the middle eastern herb and couscous salad. My father, a world traveller for his profession when I was a child, and also an amazing self-taught chef, could make some darn good tabbouleh! For my own tabbouleh, I started with what I learned from him, then pushed the envelope further, choosing my favorite parts and amplifying them. I was so pleased with the result, I have to share it with you. This was so good I ate it twice in one day -- once for lunch atop a piece of Eziekiel toast spread with storebought hummus (hummus and tabbouleh were made for each other!) and later, for dinner, topping a pile of Morgan's Herbed Mashed Potatoes ( that my daughter had been begging for days for me to make her. I featured these delicious potatoes recently on A Midlife Vegan, along with Morgan's Seitan Piccata. The tabbouleh on the potatoes was heavenly, especially since I had my fave -- collard greens sauteed with garlic on the side. Lord have mercy!

Incidentally, my daughter ate her fill of "her" potatoes, then went back for seconds an hour later! My carnivore husband loved all of this, and I also fixed him a piece of tilapia sauteed with vegan butter and lemon.

Back to the tabbouleh -- here's the recipe:

The Very Best Tabbouleh
3/4 c. couscous (I used tricolor)
1 c. veggie broth
juice of 2 lemons
1 c. or more curly parsley, well chopped
1/2 c. fresh mint, well chopped
2-3 small tomatoes, small dice
1 medium cucumber, small dice
3 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, or more
kosher salt to taste.

Bring the broth to a boil, then combine it with the couscous in a mixing bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, then let sit for 5 more minutes. Meanwhile prepare the other ingredients. Fluff the couscous with a fork, and stir in the other ingredients, tasting before adding the salt. 
Serves at least 4 for a side dish.

I find that the couscous will continue to absorb whatever liquid you give it. The bright flavors of lemon and mint are what sets this version of tabbouleh apart. More olive oil would mellow the acid a bit if you prefer. The tomatoes and cucumber were from my garden.

After I chopped enough mint for the salad, I had only three beautiful sprigs left that I knew would be forgotten if I threw them back into the crisper. So I washed them, trimmed the ends and shoved them into my glass of drinking water.

Have you tried this? YUM! What a surprise! At first the flavor was very subtle and pleasant, but within fifteen minutes or so I realized that I was actually drinking, not water, but an unbrewed, LIVING iced tea! I just keep filling the jar up with more cold, filtered water, and drinking jarful after jarful. This is all the mint I have left, so I put the whole jar in the fridge overnight and started over with a fresh jar this morning and fresh water. I will be re-using this mint until it begins to show signs of rot!  This "tea" is that good!

I avoided growing mint in the garden this year, knowing it can be a bully to the other plants, but you can bet I will be growing it next year in a pot!

Please try the tabbouleh -- I know you will love it!

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