Planet Food Lebanon: Tabbouleh

Planet Food Lebanon: Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh - by Ollie Wilkman

                   Image Ollie Wilkman

Recipe By Anissa Helou

The secret of a truly refined tabbouleh lies in the way you chop the ingredients. To produce the required thin, crisp slivers of parsley and mint, chop the leaves with a minimum of bruising. Some cooks advocate the use of a food processor as a great time saver and an acceptable alternative.

Personally I do not agree as the herbs end up bruised and mushy because of the powerful rotating action of the chopping blade. Sadly, to produce an excellent tabbouleh, you still have to resort to the old fashioned and time-consuming hand-chopping technique. The amount of burghul used varies according to regional or family tradition. I learned from my mother to use very little but you can adjust the amount to your liking, bearing in mind that parsley and tomato are the predominant ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 30 g fine burghul
  • 600 g firm ripe tomatoes, diced into 5 mm cubes
  • 50 g spring onions, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • 400 g flat-leaf parsley, most of the stalks discarded, very finely chopped
  • 70 g mint, leaves only, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
  • 150 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 gem lettuces, washed and quartered (or fresh tender vine leaves or white cabbage leaves, washed and dried)

Method:

  1. Rinse the burghul in several changes of cold water, drain well and put in a salad bowl large enough to mix the tabbouleh in.
  2. Drain the juice of the diced tomatoes and spread the tomatoes over the burghul.
  3. Add the spring onion and herbs.
  4. Season with the cinnamon, allspice, pepper and salt to taste.
  5. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well – traditionally this is done by hand but you can mix it just as well with salad servers.
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  7. Serve immediately with gem lettuce, fresh vine leaves or white cabbage leaves.