Tabbouleh (pronounced “ta-boo-lay”) is a Lebanese or Syrian herb salad with partially ground, cooked, and dried bits of fine bulgur wheat scooped onto lettuce wraps and eaten with a fork. It is traditionally composed of chopped parsley, tomato, onion, mint, bulgur wheat, lemon juice, and olive oil and has been devoured by the masses for more than 4000 years.
Although we love a traditional tabbouleh and stick to some of those classic ingredients, we shake things up a bit. Instead of bulgur wheat, we use toasted pearl couscous for that extra nuttiness factor and toss the tabbouleh with a homemade flavor-packed lemon honey vinaigrette, taking this classic mezze to a new level!
It is a light, fresh, and healthy addition to any salad, wrap, or Mediterranean main course!
Toasting the Couscous
This process adds a nutty flavor to the couscous and the dish generally. To achieve this result, sauté dry couscous in a saucepan in olive oil over medium heat. When most of the pearls turn brown, the couscous is ready to be cooked in water. Be careful not to burn them during the toasting process.
Thereafter, add water to the saucepan and cook them for approximately 10-12 minutes. Cook them until they are al dente. If they have reached an “al dente” consistency and the water has not yet evaporated, simply strain the remaining water. Overcooked couscous becomes mushy and displeasing.
Selection of Olive Oil
We recommend using a hand-picked, first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. What is this, you may ask? The International Olive Council states that only the first cold-pressed olive oils are “extra virgin.” However, the law permits a company to label the olive oil as “first pressed” or “cold-pressed,” but this does not mean they are “extra virgin.” I know, it’s a bit confusing. So, let’s break it down:
- First pressed means the olives were crushed and pressed only one time, and generally, the olive oil extracted from the first press is of the highest quality.
- Cold-pressed means that the olives never exceed a temperature of approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the pressing process, ensuring a higher quality product.
So, the term “first cold-pressed” means that both these quality standards were adhered to. With all the articles in the news about faux olive oils, make sure yours is the “real deal.” How, you ask? Read up on your brands or purchase from local farmers. We love Greek olive oils, in particular. They are amber in color and are very rich in flavor!
How to Eat It
- Eat it “as is” as a snack or appetizer
- Eat it alongside grilled chicken or salmon
- Add it to a mezze platter
- Spoon it onto pita bread
- Add it to a gyro or falafel lettuce or flatbread wrap
- Eat it with your morning eggs
Store tabbouleh, with or without the dressing, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Allow it to warm to room temperature before consuming it.
I suggest only using the amount of dressing you will consume that day. Store the remaining dressing in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator. It may be consumed for up to 1 month.
Purge Your Fridge
You just finished scarfing down our tabbouleh, and you are left with some extra mint leaves. Here are some tasty options to rid your fridge of the leftover mint leaves:
- 1 cup cucumber quartered
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup pearl couscous
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
- 1/4 cup mint leaves finely chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp olive oil first cold-pressed
- 1/8 tsp salt
- ground pepper
Lemon Honey Vinaigrette
- 3 tbsp olive oil first cold-pressed
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- ground pepper
Cut the Vegetables
- Thinly slice the cucumber crosswise and then cut each slice into four equal-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Cut the shallot in half and thinly slice the shallot, lengthwise, into long thin strips. Finely chop mint leaves and flat-leaf parsley. Set aside.1 shallot, 1/4 cup mint leaves, 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
- Mince the garlic, and squeeze the lemons. Set each aside.2 cloves garlic, 2 tbsp lemon juice
Make the Vinaigrette
- Combine minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, salt, and ground pepper in a mixing bowl.3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp honey, 1/4 tsp salt, ground pepper
- Whisk the ingredients together.
- Allow the dressing to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Cook the Pearl Couscous
- Combine pearl couscous and olive oil in a saucepan at medium heat. Toast the dry couscous until lightly browned.1/4 cup pearl couscous, 1 tsp olive oil
- Add water and salt. Raise the heat on the stovetop to high heat.1/2 cup water, 1/8 tsp salt
- When it begins to boil, cover the saucepan with its lid, reduce the heat on the stovetop to medium-low, and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the couscous is al dente.
Toss the Salad
- Toss together cucumber, shallots, mint, flat-leaf parsley, cooked couscous, and lemon honey vinaigrette in a mixing bowl.
- Season with salt and ground pepper to taste.ground pepper
- Serve and enjoy.