The name of this recipe happens to contain two words that I have to look up every single time I want to spell them. I can never remember if couscous is one word or two (one) and tabbouleh is just an impossibility for me to remember. So, Couscous Tabbouleh is kind of a spelling nightmare, but the recipe is so good that I’ll struggle through.
Luckily, Google knows me well so when I type in “Tabbuollehhh” it tells me what I need to know in only a mild condescending fashion. (“Did you mean tabbouleh you moron?”)
While you could use a number of grains for this recipe (or classic bulgar which is what is normally in tabbouleh), I think couscous is a really wonderful base for this salad.
If you want to use something like quinoa (an equally weird word to spell), just find all instances of couscous in this Couscous Tabbouleh recipe and replace them with quinoa. Done deal!
What is Tabbouleh traditionally?
Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with wheat bulgur as a base and then you mix in a lot of fresh herbs and vegetables. The most important piece of a good tabbouleh is actually the fresh parsley. A traditional tabbouleh will have almost equal parts parsley and bulgar.
I toned down the parsley a bit for this version and also added some mint.
Cooking the Couscous for this salad
This time around I used couscous, but I’ve made this stuff with wheat berries, quinoa, and even rice pilaf.
Couscous actually has a very similar look and texture as the traditional bulgur so it works really well.
Couscous is about as easy as cooking gets. You should always check the cooking instructions for your specific kind as it might vary slightly, but basically you just add one cup of water per cup of dried couscous to a pot and bring it to a simmer.
Toss in a small nob of butter (a tablespoon maybe) and a pinch of salt. Once the water is simmering, stir in your couscous, cover the pot, and turn off the heat.
Five minutes later, you’ll have this light and fluffy couscous which you can use for all kinds of stuff.
The Lemon Garlic Dressing
This salad has a very simple dressing for it. It really only has three ingredients (garlic, olive oil, lemon) but it might be the most important part of the tabbouleh.
It’s easy to make. Mash up a clove of garlic in a bowl with a fork and then add your lemon juice.
Whisk in the olive oil to combine the dressing and you should end up with this nice, bright yellow dressing that will be pretty acidic and delicious.
You might not want (or need) all of the dressing so just pour it in a bowl and reserve it for later.
Adding the vegetables and herbs
In my opinion, there are only two requirements for a good tabbouleh. First, a few fresh veggies like tomatoes or cucumbers.
Second, a metric ton of fresh herbs, most importantly flat-leaf parsley, but mint also helps.
Just seed and peel the cucumber and then dice it up. If you can find them, the mini cucumbers are nice in this salad as well.
For the tomato you can either use larger vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped or use about a cup of cherry tomatoes which you can quarter.
Then toss everything together.
Add the dressing in small batches. I ended up using all of mine, but you might want to use less. Remember that it’s always easier to add more later.
Season the couscous tabbouleh with salt and pepper and you’re all set!
What to serve with this couscous tabbouleh
You could serve this Couscous Tabbouleh as a side to any number of dishes or it can be a meal by itself.
Served with a warm pita bread, it makes a fantastic light lunch.
This Couscous Tabbouleh salad works great in the summer. This plus some lemonade and a little something sweet would make for a really good picnic.
It’s not heavy at all and has lots of bright, fresh summer flavors.
It takes under twenty minutes to toss together and it’s a well-spent twenty minutes.
- 1 ½ cups couscous, cooked according to package
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- ⅔ cup fresh parsley, minced
- ½ cup fresh mint, minced
- Salt and pepper
- Pita bread, for serving
- Cook couscous according to package. Normally this involves bringing 1 cup of water per cup of uncooked couscous to a simmer in a pot along with a tablespoon of butter and a pinch of salt. Once boiling, stir in couscous, turn off the heat, and let sit, covered for about 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork.
- Add lemon juice to a bowl and mash in garlic. Then whisk in olive oil to form a dressing.
- Add two-three tablespoons of dressing to finished couscous and toss to combine.
- Peel and seed cucumber and dice. Add to couscous.
- Mince parsley and mint and stir into couscous. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over the mix and season the whole salad with salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes last.
- Either serve as a side dish or with pita bread.