I have been making couscous recipes for years – and Couscous Tabbouleh is something I whip up every couple of weeks. It is simple, filling, can taste great, versatile, and keeps well in the fridge. I tend to make a good-sized batch one evening, then bring the rest to work for lunch. A 30 minute investment and about £1.40 worth of ingredients will give me a good base for my Monday-Friday lunches, giving me a great choice of things to add to it over the course of a week. Cold chicken, crumbled feta cheese, olives and artichoke hearts etc all work really well. I am so bored of what is locally available – I’d much rather bring in my own.
To anyone well-versed in the world of Tabbouleh, you can fairly sit back and think- ‘What is this blithering idiot rambling on about – Tabbouleh is made with Bulgar Wheat!’ . I was very much of the same impression, until a trip to Morocco in September 2013. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Bulgar Wheat, and was so much looking forward to what I had in my mind as a typical and authentic Tabbouleh I was somewhat surprised to have it made of couscous. It did taste good though. Thinking this was a one-off and convincing myself that there was a localized shortage of Bulgar Wheat in Marrakech, I ordered it again when in the High Atlas mountains. To my surprise, couscous was again the primary agreement. Ultimately, I had Tabbouleh three times in Morocco, and Bulgar Wheat never appeared. A conspiracy? Who knows! All I can say is that it works equally well with couscous. I have been playing with this a fair bit, and do not think you’ll be disappointed with my approach below. If you have had a bad experience in the past -either so arid, it can be a substitute for sand or a caked together into sticky/wet bland goop – something went wrong. Give it another chance – I implore you – give couscous Tabbouleh a go…
- 500 g couscous
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 600 ml hot chicken or vegetable stock made from stock cube such as Knorr is absolutely fine
- juice and zest of 1 x lemon
- small bunch of flat leaf parsley chopped
- small bunch of fresh mint leaves chopped
- 1 x quarter large cucumber cored and cubed
- 2 x medium tomatoes cored, and finely cubed
- 4 x spring onions trimmed and finely sliced
- salt and black pepper
- get a large mixing bowl, and empty the bag of couscous into it. Add the zest of lemon, season well (I am very liberal when black pepper is concerned) and mix thoroughly. Drizzle over 1 tbsp of olive oil and half the lemon juice, and mix together.
- Make 600ml of chicken or vegetable stock ( 1 1/2 cubes is normally sufficient). Mix well, and pour over the couscous. Using a large fork, mix everything together as thoroughly as you can. Cover with a tea towel and place a dinner plate on top.
- After 5 minutes, uncover, and separate the couscous grains using a fork. Don't worry, it may seem to be quite arduous at first but with a little persistence, it will crumble apart into individual grains. It is a bit like raking through wet sand at first. Ensure that the grains are well separated (it is quite easy to leave behind a significant clump of couscous at the bottom of a large bowl) and, uncovered, allow to cool.
- Finely dice the tomatoes, cucumber, and thinly slice the spring onions and mix well with the couscous.
- Thinly shred the parsley and mind and add to the bowl. Add the remaining olive oil and lemon juice, mix well, and season to taste. Do not be afraid to tweak this to your liking. Want it zingier- add some more lemon juice.
- Store what you do not need in a large Tupperware container. Add a wedge of lemon if storing for 3-4 days to maintain a fresh flavor.