tabbouleh margherita

Tabbouleh Italiano

This summer, I've posted a whole lot of tabbouleh. There was tomatillo tabbouleh verde, inspired by the flavors of Mexican salsa verde, there was ruby fennel tabbouleh with pomegranate seeds, grapefruit supremes, and lots of fennel fronds, and tomorrow I'm posting a guide to building your own tabbouleh. If you experiment with your own spin on the classic, I'd love to hear what you come up with.

While you can totally do this by mixing and matching your favorite flavors (might I suggest the Flavor Bible?), another fun source of inspiration can come from the flavors in your favorite dishes. Do you like cucumber-tomato Jerusalem salad? Why not turn it into tabbouleh! Do you like mint chip ice cream? Make it a tabbouleh with plenty of fresh mint, chocolate chips, and waffle cone crumbles! Or maybe don't try that because it was a joke and sounds pretty gross. But pizza tabbouleh? That will work quite nicely.

Basil
Basil

This tabbouleh is inspired by my favorite pizza, margherita, but without the mozzarella, because I just can't imagine a tabbouleh that isn't vegan. But if you're more of a pizza margherita stickler and less of a tabbouleh stickler, this salad would be delicious with finely diced pieces of fresh mozzarella. While the soft discs of fresh mozzarella are a huge part of why I love pizza margherita, I think it's my favorite because of the enduring combination of fresh tomato and basil.

So instead of parsley and mint, I've gone with parsley, basil, and oregano, which are more true to the margherita flavors. And instead of bulgur, I've used farro, which is a wonderfully chewy Italian grain. It brings that rustic chewiness of a really good Neapolitan pizza to the tabbouleh, which tends to be a little more refined in its texture when made with bulgur. And most importantly, I've included balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice, although I've cut way back on the amount. Balsamic vinegar is more pungent than refreshing and a little goes a long way.

Parsley
Cuban Oregano
Tabbouleh Italiano

tabbouleh margherita

yield: 6 servings
total time: 20 minutes

active time: 15 minutes
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  • 2 cups water

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup farro

  1. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.

  2. Once the water is boiling, add the farro and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 16 minutes, or according to the package instructions. The farro is done when it is al dente (pleasantly chewy).

  3. Prep the other ingredients while the farro cooks.

  4. Strain and then rinse the farro in lukewarm water for about 30 seconds. Drain well and add to a mixing bowl.

  • 1 packed cup minced parsley

  • 1/4 cup basil chiffonade

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced oregano

  • 1/2 cup minced green onion

  • 1 cup minced brown or red tomatoes, strained, juices discarded

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Add the parsley, basil, oregano, green onions, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the farro.

  2. Combine, taste it, and adjust the seasoning to taste (oil, vinegar, salt, pepper).

  3. This tabbouleh is best when served immediately, but is still very good the next day. Use a sharp knife to make sure the herbs don't turn brown.

Tabbouleh Italiano

tomatillo tabbouleh verde

Tabbouleh Verde

This tabbouleh verde, inspired by classic Mexican salsa verde, is as green as can be. And something that just looks like a plain green salad might not seem like it would taste very exciting. But, as anyone who has ever tasted a banana and a lemon knows, a color isn't the same thing as a flavor (unless you count "blue" flavored sports drinks). There are so many different green things packed into this tabbouleh, and each ingredient brings its own personality, which will surprise anyone who takes a bite. And there's something especially fun about a monochromatic dish that doesn't taste monochromatic. Just as anyone who spends time learning about Mexican or Middle Eastern food will discover, what may seem homogenous to an outsider is actually incredibly diverse and sophisticated.

Tomatillos
cilantro
lime

The primary thing that makes salsa verde salsa verde is the massive amount of tomatillos that go into it (well, that and lots of other tasty green produce like cilantro, jalapeños, and lime juice). Most of the salsa verde I've had has been the cooked version, but there are also some variations where the tomatillos are left raw. And if you've ever tried raw tomatillos, you know how different these two salsa verdes can be. Instead of that almost gelatinous texture, and the deep, tannin cooked tomatillo flavor (which I absolutely adore), raw tomatillos have such a snappy, sweet flavor and texture, almost like a tomato-flavored apple. So, needless to say, this tabbouleh is very different than the classic kind, made with red tomatoes. But it's a really fun change for times when you're looking for something a little zippier and more refreshing.

Tabbouleh Verde
Tabbouleh Verde

tomatillo tabbouleh verde

yield: 4 to 6 servings
active time: 25 minutes
total time: 30 minutes
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2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup pearl couscous *

  • Bring the water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.

  • Once the water is boiling, add the couscous and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 7 to 8 minutes (check the box for cooking time). The couscous is done when it is al dente (pleasantly chewy).

  • Strain and then rinse the couscous in lukewarm water for about 30 seconds. Drain well and add to a mixing bowl.

3/4 cup minced parsley
1/2 cup minced cilantro
2 tablespoons chiffonade mint
1/2 cup minced green onions
1 cup minced raw tomatillos (about 4)
1 minced jalapeño (remove the pith and seeds for less spice)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more to taste)
1/4 cup lime juice (plus more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

  • This tabbouleh is best when served immediately, but is still very good the next day. Use a sharp knife and dry the herbs completely to make sure they don't turn brown.

  • Add the parsley, cilantro, mint, green onions, tomatillos, jalapeño, olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper to the couscous.

  • Combine, taste it, and adjust the seasoning to taste (oil, lime, salt, pepper).

* Pearl couscous is much larger than fine couscous, so if you're using a finer kind, be sure to reduce the cook time. Cooking times vary from box to box, so be sure to check yours for instructions. This dish can be made a few hours ahead of time; if you plan to let the tabbouleh sit for longer than 30 minutes, undercook the couscous by about 1 minute.

Tabbouleh Verde