Tabbouleh Salad

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The juice of this salad, known as zoum, is cherished by diners: it’s not uncommon to witness people sipping it from their plate. An authentic tabbouleh calls for prolific amounts of parsley, which forms the base of the salad. Bulgur wheat is sprinkled over the dish like salt and is not actually an essential ingredient at all. For a real tabbouleh, the most important thing is that the parsley should be cut into very fine threads as carefully as possible, and ideally the blade of the knife should only come into contact with it once. The more the blade is allowed to bruise the parsley, the more bitter it will taste, so a food processor is not a good option. Use the best oil you have.

Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 80 g/ oz/4 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves (roughly 4 handfuls)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
  • 300 g/10½ oz plum tomatoes, cut into 5mm/¼in cubes
  • 2 small spring onions/scallions, very finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fine bulgur wheat (grade 1), (optional)
  • crisp cos/romaine lettuce
  • ½ head of cabbage
  • 4 fresh vine leaves (optional)
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp high-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Pick out and discard any discoloured or imperfect parsley leaves, and discard any stalks, which would make the salad bitter. Wash the parsley well, then place in a salad spinner and spin several times until the leaves are completely dry. Alternatively, pat dry thoroughly on paper towels.
  2. Bunch up small amounts of the parsley leaves at a time, keeping an extremely tight grip on them, then slice them very thinly (no thicker than 2 mm/1/16 in threads) using a very sharp knife. Put in a salad bowl along with the mint, tomatoes and spring onions/scallions. If preparing for later, cover at this stage and set aside in the refrigerator.
  3. Rinse the bulgur, if using, and drain well.
  4. Separate the lettuce leaves and the cabbage leaves, and remove their central veins.
  5. Arrange the lettuce, cabbage and vine leaves, if using, on a plate. When ready to serve, sprinkle the tabbouleh with the bulgur wheat, if using. Add the allspice, lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Use the various leaves to scoop up portions of the tabbouleh.