lundi, juin 07, 2010

Taboulé (Couscous Salad)

Taboulé aux Herbes et au Couscous
Taboulé is a Summer staple in our household. When we do a BBQ, we make a taboulé to eat the grilled meat with. It is basically a seasoned salad from the Levant (e.g. Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa) made with couscous or bulgur and raw vegetables like peppers, cucumber, tomatoes and lots of fresh herbs. Some people add olives, even anchovies and what not in their taboulé, but I like to keep mine very simple, the important thing for me being that the flavours mingle and marry and come through with every bite that you take of the salad. And taste fresh.

I make mine the way the French usually do it. It came out nicely enough this time round, but the couscous grains were a bit too soggy. I have probably overcooked them. One could simply count on the olive oil, lemon juice and juices from the raw vegetables to cook the grains, but since I was making a huge quantity I didn't want to take the risk and decided to pre-cook my couscous albeit with less water than usual. It was probably still too much water.

I never thought to really blog about it because it was something so simple it didn't serve any purpose. But my guests all wanted to have the recipe. They also wondered if I had spent my last few days cooking. Actually making a BBQ is one of the easiest things to do, because you accompany it with salads and dips that could be done piano piano and require no labour over a hot stove. I prepared the food bit by bit and felt more tired complaining about the lack of cold storage than making da mangare. Anyway cooking is therapetic for me, as surprisingly enough, playing the piano too - lately. I was furious with the Hub the other evening and managed to calm down by fingering a few easy tunes on the piano - at midnight.

Goes to show that knowledge is never wasted in life. I didn't see much purpose in learning how to play the piano when I was a kid (a few cousins started learning and mum said I had to do it too), but nearly 30 years down the road I'm beginning to enjoy it. Though I can no longer play as well as I could when I was learning the instrument. Ditto for learning how to drive. There is usually no need to know how to drive in Singapore, but I did it anyway and a few decades down the road, that's what I need to do even if it was to buy a stamp.

Taboulé :

2 cups of Couscous grains (small or medium is up to you)
3 Tbsp Olive Oil (just for the grains)
1 cup of hot Water
2 Tsp Salt
Pepper to taste
A very generous handful of fresh Parsley (chopped)
A very generous handful of fresh Mint (chopped)
A generous handful of fresh Basil (chopped)
2 Cucumbers (chopped)
1-2 Red Peppers (chopped)
1 Red Onion (chopped)
A dozen Cherry or Plum Tomatoes (chopped)
Juice of 2 large Lemons (or more if desired)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the couscous grains in a large salad bowl together with the salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over it. Pour the hot water over the couscous and let it be absorbed by the grains. It's not important if the grains are not totally cooked.

Alternatively, soak the grains in cold water for 15 minutes and drain in a sieve for another 15 minutes to make sure that most of the water has been removed. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Finely chop the fresh herbs and stir into the couscous with a fork.

Finely chop the raw vegetables and do each vegetable at a time. For example, if doing the red peppers, pile the chopped peppers on top of the couscous and season with salt, pepper, lots of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon for a few minutes before mixing them into the couscous.

Do the same with the rest of the vegetables to allow them to macerate in the seasoning. BUT, leave the tomatoes out till the every end - just before serving. Or they will make the taboulé become very soggy.

I like to prepare my taboulé a day in advance to allow the flavours to mingle and penetrate the grains. Check the seasoning (mainly herbs, salt, olive oil and lemon juice) and serve it chilled. Sometimes I add a teaspoon or more of roasted cumin seeds, but only when I feel like it. And a taboulé with fruit like melon and raspberries can also be delicious.

1 commentaire:

Edith a dit…

I had a packet of this leftover and I was clueless how else I can finish it up. Now you solved my problem. Going to do this when i get back.