Taboulé is a summer salad that is synonymous with eating on the go or "sur le pouce" in France. When I was working in Nice, my colleagues and I would take our containers of homemade or store bought Taboulé down to the famous blue chairs that lined the Promenade des Anglais. We would slip off our high heels and prop our feet up against the railing, overlooking the sea. Conversations ebbed and flowed around mouthfuls of this zesty salad. The hour long lunch break was the most delicious time of the day and this light, refreshing dish was the perfect one-plate meal. I no longer work in France but I do enjoy a good Taboulé, especially as a picnic, BBQ or pool-side food. My recipes vary depending on what I found at the Farmers' Market that weekend yet the salad remains light and refreshing and most deliciously fool-proof. Taboulé stores very well and has the wonderful quality of getting better as it sits in the fridge over a couple days. There are many variations of Taboulé (or Tabouleh) but here is my favorite:
1 Cup of uncooked Couscous grains
4 persian cucumbers
1 red onion
4-5 tomatoes of varying colors if possible
1 bunch of italian flat parsley
1 lemon for zesting
1 cup Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon harissa (North African red chili paste)
1 can of chickpeas is also a great addition but not necessary
D'abord: Cook the couscous as per package instructions, fluff and then place in a big salad bowl in the fridge to chill. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill for a couple hours.
Dice the tomatoes, onions and peeled cucumbers into tiny squares. You do not want big chunks in this salad! You will want to have all the vegetables present in each delicious bite.
Chop the parsley. The more parsley the better, so grab a big bunch and chop away!
Remove the chilled salad bowl of couscous from the fridge and fold in the mixed vegetables and parsley. I like to mix with a spatula to get that gentle fold that does not mush the couscous. You don't want to over mix!!
Next, I whisk together the cup of olive oil, harissa and balsamic vinegar in a separate bowl. If you don't have Harissa on hand, any red chili paste works very nicely for a little kick.
Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous and vegetable mix.
*** Variations! At this point you can also add in proteins such as chopped grilled chicken, crabsticks, shrimps, tuna, egg or tofu for a complete meal. I also like to add chopped black olives or grated carrots. Mix and match as you like, it is really hard to make a bad Taboulé, trust me on this!***
Lastly, I finely zest a lemon over the salad with my microplane. If you don't have a microplane I highly suggest buying one! I use it all the time for zesting or creating that perfect snow of parmesan over a salad or pasta dish. Mine comes from Williams Sonoma.
Gently fold the zest and the vinaigrette into the Taboulé and enjoy!
Do I even need to mention that a glass of Provençal Rosé pairs beautifully with this?