There is a lot I love about summer. It's, without doubt, my favourite season. I love the heat - even that sticky heat you get with no air conditioner. I know, I'm weird. I would always rather be too hot than too cold. I can sleep in the heat but if my feet are cold I will have the worst sleep ever.
Another thing I love about summer is eating salads for dinner. Whether it's just salad or accompanying something else as the token vegetable (aka BBQ side dish), I love the ease of just throwing things into a bowl, mixing it all up and tucking in. Maybe some bread on the side, or some hummus... just delicious.
One of the most popular salads in my house (and my aunt's house, and family BBQ tables) is tabbouleh. And, I'm sorry, none of this, I'm-going-to-make-a-heck-load-of-couscous-throw-in-some-parsley-and-call-it-tabbouleh, tabbouleh. No. That is not tabbouleh. That is an English couscous salad. I mean real tabbouleh.
Don't get me wrong. All Arabs make it differently in terms of quantity and type of tomatoes, type of grain (traditionally bulgar wheat) and even the type of onion. But we are all agreed, the amount of grain is MINIMAL. In fact, my recipe doesn't even include a grain. The star of tabbouleh is the parsley. If you are going to add bulgar, couscous or quinoa, make sure it's at most a fifth of the amount of parsley you are using.
In the Middle East, you can't buy parsley in the piddly little supermarket packets that we get here in the U.K. When you go to a green grocer, or even a supermarket, to buy parsley in the Middle East, you are committing to at least 400g of freshness. At least. I always buy more. I mean, parsley is the no.1 herb! It goes in tabbouleh, kofta, fattoush, ojja... It tops soups, tagines, hummus and it's frickin' delicious! So, on that note, go and visit your local green grocer for some fresh, green, juicy parsley, or grow it yourself on your windowsill or in your garden. trust me, it's pretty impossible to kill.
600g fresh parsley (flat leaf or curly - whichever you prefer), you may need more if the stalks are thick and heavy.
4 large ripe tomatoes
Juice of 3 lemons
3 tbsp summaq
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Chop your parsley leaves as thin as you can get them. My mum likes to use a food processor for this and pulse it but I find I mince it too finely that way and it goes juicy. Not ideal. I make a tight bunch with about a third of the parsley and chop it as fine as I can right down to when the leaves become stalks. Then I keep mincing the leaves until they look a bit like green confetti. Then into a big mixing bowl they go. Do this for the other two thirds of parsley as well. You won't need the stalks for this but you can freeze them and use them in a soup base or with other veg scraps to make vegetable stock.
Very, very finely dice your shallots and tomatoes. I use a bread knife for the tomatoes for best results. Try and not get too much of the tomato juice into the salad. It will make it too soggy when you come to make the dressing.
Mix everything so far together your bowl with a fork. Add the summaq while still mixing. Then add the lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt to taste and mix, mix, mix. This salad is:
1) Gluten Free
3) Perfect as a BBQ side
4) Perfect as a salad base for packed lunches
5) My favourite