One of my favorite things about living in South Carolina is the extended produce season. We can have cherry tomatoes in late October, even November, no prob! And as a final celebration of summer produce I often go a little crazy with overloading on it before it turns into a shadow of itself in the form of sad, watery, boxed tomatoes from South America that are more well-traveled than I.
Tabbouleh (also spelled tabouli) is a Middle Eastern dish that is bursting with summer flavors of tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, cilantro, parsley, and lemon with couscous as a base. Some people use French couscous which are the smaller grains, but I prefer the toothier feel of Israeli couscous, which are little orbs of pasta that cook quickly and absorb the lemon-olive oil dressing well.
Israeli Couscous Tabbouleh
1 cup Israeli couscous
3 cups water
Cherry or grape tomatoes, diced, bonus points for colorful heirloom varieties
Cucumbers, seeded and diced
Any combination of mint, parsley, basil, cilantro (1 teaspoon each if using dried, 1 tablespoon each if using fresh)
Scallions or chives
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring water to a boil in a medium sized pot, and add a pinch of salt.
2. Dice the tomatoes and cucumber into pieces the size of your pinky fingernail. Set aside in a large mixing or serving bowl.
3. Combine the fresh herbs if using, in a ramekin and use scissors to easily chop up any fresh herbs, then add in any dry herbs, if using. Any combination of mint, parsley, basil and cilantro can be used, but the more the better, though mint and cilantro are key.
4. Prepare the dressing by combining olive oil and lemon juice in a container with a lid that seals well. Shake vigorously to emulsify. Remove the lid and add the salt and pepper. Replace lid and shake again.
5. Once the water comes to a boil, add couscous, lower to a simmer, and cook for 8 minutes.
6. Drain the couscous and add to the cucumber and tomato mixture. Pour the dressing and herbs over the mixture and use a spoon to combine well.
7. Top with scallions. Tip: Use scissors to cut scallions directly onto the couscous!
8. Add extra lemon juice or salt and pepper to taste and serve warm or chill in the fridge so flavors can mingle.
This salad looks amazing when served on a white ceramic dish so that the summery green and red of the vegetables and herbs really pop!
The pictured plate came from my local Goodwill when I was on a photo prop hunt and is a favorite from my mismatched dish collection that mostly originated from Goodwill and yard sales.
White dishes in particular make food pop in photographs which is why food bloggers like myself are big fans, but anyone who likes to have their Instagrams look great should also check out the different styles of dishware that can be unearthed just by doing a little digging and cleaning of the piece!