KALE TABBOULEH with ISRAELI PEARL COUSCOUS by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan
September 11, 2020
Warning: Poetic License Invoked!
‘Tabbouleh’ is THE iconic parsley & bulgur wheat salad, of course. It swept the country in the seventies and is obviously here to stay.
In this version, I have swapped in kale for most of the parsley and used Israeli/pearl couscous in place of the traditional bulgur wheat. The Israeli couscous is a chewier grain (also made from wheat/semolina flour) and a better match with the sturdy kale. The rest of the ingredients are common to tabbouleh: scallion, tomato, cucumber, lemon and olive oil. I have paired the salad with grilled chicken. Serve with flatbread or toasted pita chips as well.
- Prep: 40 mins
- Cook: 40 mins
- Yields: 4 servings as side dish.
½ cup Israeli/pearl couscous
2-3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 bunch curly kale, about 1 pound (see below)
1 bunch curly-leaf parsley, washed & dried
2 pieces of scallion, washed & dried
½ pint small cherry or grape tomatoes, washed & dried
1 cup peeled & diced cucumber (from a medium cucumber)
6-7 tablespoons extra virgin (XV) olive oil, divided
3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus extra as needed to taste
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon dried mint or dill
Optional: ¼ teaspoon ground sumac (sumac is a Middle Eastern spice, fresh and lemon-y)
fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste (T.T.)
Begin by cooking the couscous. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Add salt and add the couscous. Stir and stir often. Cook until ‘al dente’. Drain. DO NOT RINSE. Toss with 1-2 teaspoons of XV olive oil. Spread out on a plate to cool. Set aside.
Wash the kale leaves and shake dry. Wash the bunch of parsley as well. Shake the moisture from the bunch of parsley and allow to air dry while you chop the kale leaves. Remove the curly leaves from each side of the stalk (the stalk is too tough and chewy to be part of the salad…if chopped very finely, though, it could be used in a soup.) Tear the kale leaves into large pieces and spin dry in your salad spinner. Grab a small pile of leaves at a time and scrunch together very tightly. Cut across into thin slivers. (This technique is known as “chiffonade” in French. And there is a video available demonstrating this technique. Add chopped kale to a large bowl. Repeat until all the kale is chopped. You should have 5-6 cups of chopped kale. Pull the parsley leaves from the stems and rough chop it. You’ll have about 1 cup. Combine with the kale.
Trim the ends of the 2 pieces of scallion. Thinly slice both the white and green parts and add to the kale bowl.
Slice the cherry/grape tomatoes in half and add to the bowl.
Peel and dice the cucumber into small pieces, enough to yield 1 cup. Add to the greens’ bowl.
Make the dressing. In a small bowl combine ½ cup XV olive oil with the ground cumin, the ground sumac (if using), the dried mint or dill and a couple twists of the pepper mill. Whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 pinches of kosher salt. Taste and adjust seasoning.
To Finish: Coat the greens and veggies with the dressing. Don’t add all of it at once, it’s better to hold back and season again in 10-15 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving. Kale is a very hearty green and will benefit from softening and wilting a bit before serving. The dressing will accomplish this task.
To Serve: I served my salad with pita chips, hummus, green olives and grilled chicken skewers.
Grilled lamb or scallops sound equally appealing to me.