Growing up in a (half) Moroccan family has its perks. The main one being food. I was raised eating an assortment of delicious Moroccan foods cooked by my grandmother, aunts and of course my Mom.
Moroccan salads were a staple of my diet my whole life. Most kids run home after school and maybe snack on potato crisps, or other unhealthy snacks (I literally don’t have a clue what as I grew up in a 100% junk food free house to my dismay at the time). But in my house, there were always huge bowls of cucumber, carrot, purple cabbage and parsley salad for me and my siblings to scoff. And did we ever enjoy it.
My true favourite (it’s a bit painful to pick one) is Tabouleh (pronounced by me and my family as ta-boo-lee). This is a simple salad mainly of parsley and couscous, but absolutely delicious. And extremely healthy. When I moved out of the family house, I would go over weekly for dinner and take back with me huge containers of the stuff. Now that I live across the pond, and have started to take up culinary adventures, I decided to teach myself how to make it (With help from my mom of course!!)
I now no longer have to be without this incredible salad, which makes an amazing starter, side dish, bed for haloumi and grilled anything, and sometimes depending on how much I shovel into my mouth, dinner.
This is extremely easy to make, doesn’t require many ingredients and most importantly: you can’t really screw it up. I will warn you that it can be somewhat time consuming due to needing to prepare the parsley.
I usually make a humungous batch as it keeps really well all week.
What you’ll need:
- A very huge bowl to mix the salad
- A food processor
- A couple of huge bunches of gorgeous parsley (my local Turkish off licence has some great ones)
- Spring onions
- A few tomatoes
- Olive oil, salt, pepper
- Cucumber (optional)
- Mint (optional)
The order in which I do things can probably be altered but this is generally how I make it:
- Clean the parsley by tearing off all the whole leaves and putting into food processor.
- This can take time but worth it. Don’t put any stems into the food processor
- Once you get a good deal of leaves into the processor, whizz until finely chopped. I usually need to set aside the first batch and do a second batch as I make a lot.
Set aside all chopped parsley leaves into a very large salad bowl.
Get a small mixing bowl and fill with couscous about ¾ of the way up to the top. (you can decide the amount of couscous depending what balance you like. You can’t really have too much and if you have too little it takes 3 minutes to make more)
Fill with water (room temperature/cold) until the couscous is just covered and you have a little bit of water sitting on top (See photo). Set aside for the water to be absorbed.
Finely chop a few spring onions, tomatoes and cucumber if using.
The couscous should be ready in about 5 minutes or so.
Add the couscous, spring onions, tomatoes and cucumber (if using) into the chopped parsley and mix a little.
Juice about two lemons into the salad (you can use as much as you like and watch out for the pips!!) add plenty of olive oil (I never measure, it’s all on instinct you can’t really have the wrong amount),salt and pepper. You can also add chopped mint if you like.
Mix all together really well. You may need to break up some bits of the couscous if it’s a little firm and stuck together. I’ve sometimes worried that my couscous is either not moist enough or too moist but it all tends to work out in the end.
Taste and continue to mix and season as needed. The salad shouldn’t be wet so go easy on the lemon juice and olive oil at the start. If it’s too moist it won’t keep as well.