Tabbouleh or not tabouli?

I’ve been having major cravings for this middle eastern crunchy, delicious, vitamin explosion in a bowl the past few weeks…I’d always thought it was spelled “tabbouli” turns out I may or may not be correct, both spellings were listed in the dictionary along with “tabouli” as an alternative.

Also not only are there various spellings there seems to be two different approaches in the recipe itself. One French, the other from its native middle east.

The French version is much more like a couscous dish, a great deal of couscous with a little chopped tomato, cucumber and a sprinkling of mint and parsley, heavy on the olive oil, light on the lemon juice. A little heartier, a little more filling. You can find an excellent version of this at the Cafe de Paris, 17 Garfield place in downtown Cincinnati.

The middle eastern version, the one I’ve been craving is a little more salad-like, crunchier and just busting out with the tang of parsley and lemon along with a spicy pepper aftertaste. My very favorite version in town can be found at Floyd’s in Clifton at 129 Calhoun St.

Both versions make excellent dishes for any season as a side or a main dish. They are chock full of vitamins that are especially helpful in keeping your immune system humming this time of year. Also if you make the middle eastern version with it’s mound of fresh chopped parsley, you get the benefit of getting a good night’s sleep as well because parsley, like garlic is a great soporific!

M.E. Tabbouleh

1 large bunch of parsley chopped fine
1/3 of a medium onion diced
1 large tomato diced
1/4 cup couscous (place in a microwavable dish and just cover with water. Cook on high in the microwave for one minute then cool and fluff)

Combine the above and toss. Add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the juice of one large lemon, a half a teaspoon of sea salt and a half a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.

Toss again, if it’s not gloriously lemony and tangy add some more lemon juice. I usually put it in the fridge for a half an hour to an hour to chill and blend the flavors. Toss again before you serve. It will only store well for a day or two at the most. The salt brings the liquid out of the veggies and it won’t be quite as crisp.

Serves 2 lunch portions or 4 sides, or one…if it’s me.

Tabouli de Paris

1/2 a bunch of parsley chopped fine
10 fresh mint leaves chiffonade
1/4 of an onion chopped
1 medium tomato diced
1 large cucumber peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup of couscous (put in a microwave safe dish, add water until the couscous is just covered, microwave for 2 minutes, cool and fluff)

Toss all of the above until mixed, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of one medium lemon, a quarter teaspoon of cumin, a 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt and pepper to taste.

Toss again, taste and adjust seasonings.
Makes two lunch portions or 4 sides.

Make both! Let me know which is your favorite…

About Elle Crash

At one point it was New York, L.A., Tokyo, Istanbul, Venice, Curacao, Now it's here in Cincinnati... I make rock, food, marketing, magic and cats purr... If you'd like a copy of my cookbook "Rock and Rolls" contact me.
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6 Responses to Tabbouleh or not tabouli?

  1. You are going to be responsible for inciting wild tabbouleh cravings all around the country … I’m going to make the Middle Eastern version tomorrow, and maybe throw in some finely diced jalapenos or serranos for a little heat. The colder it gets, the spicier I want my food to be.

  2. Heather says:

    Ooh! Ooh! Now I want this, too. I like mine with some chickpeas and feta, though. Not sure how authentic that is, but it’s tasty. I think there’s a trip to the grocery in my immediate future …

  3. Now I’m thinking of taking the recipe to Mexico (always my favorite culinary destination!) by adding serranos and radishes (we got the coolest purple radishes with our latest CSA share), trading the parsley for cilantro and the lemon juice for lime juice. And maybe a dash of ancho chile powder along with the black pepper.

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