This memory also makes me think of the ingredients and foodstuffs that, in the decades since, have found their way more successfully into our pantries. Olive oil is out of the medicinal cupboard and into the pantry, in many incarnations. Spices and herbs have proliferated and represent many cuisines of the world; there’s more than just Keen’s curry now! There’s more varieties of pasta than you can poke a spaghetti strand at. And there may not be burghul, but there’s couscous and freekah and the now-commonplace quinoa. Who’d have guessed!
But back to tabouli. In theory, it’s a lovely, refreshing idea — and a perfect solution to the abundance of cucumbers coming out of dad’s garden, and my own healthy supply of tomatoes. But something had to be done about the burghul. I remembered a recipe using brown rice, but on warm summer days, brown rice seems too heavy (and takes too long to cook).
So I’ve substituted wholemeal couscous, which takes a mere blink to make, and is soft and definitely not gritty. While it’s softening, you can cut up the green and the red — these are the colour of summer, vibrant green beans and basil, and ruby-rich tomatoes.
I’ve been using spring onions, and great handfuls of baby-tender curly parsley and basil; then lots of juicy, seedy cucumbers from dad. The tomatoes are the pure red of a roma-style mamma mia, or the darker black krim or stripey orange big beryl (I have a girl crush on her this season!). I’ve also been adding lightly steamed green beans (because I have loads of those) and occasionally, some juicy red capsicum for some extra crunch. Then a drizzle of olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice; and strangely, never salt – all this homegrown produce tastes so fresh and cool, I don’t need any seasoning.
I got all art-director fancy for the top photo, arranging the tomatoes in a line; but mostly my tabouli is a big jumble, more like this: