Tabouleh (also tabbouleh, tabouli, or تبولة ).
The Middle East, just like myself, seems to have fallen in love with this originally vegetarian and vegan salad. My mouth waters and my heart sings when hearing this word. Tabouleh originally comes from the mountains of Syria and Lebanon. Traditionally it is made of finely chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, onion, garnished with bulgur, and seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Often it is served as a mezze, accompanied by many other dishes including flatbread, hummus, bhaba ghanoush or various meat dishes.
Although traditionally tabouleh is made with bulgur, I use millet instead. Let me tell you why.
So, what is millet exactly? Millet is a tiny seed which has a slightly nutty flavour when cooked. As it is a seed, and not a grain, it is gluten free and thus safe for those experiencing problems when eating foods containing gluten (such as bulgur). Apart from quinoa and amaranth, millet has the most complete protein of any grain. Therefore, being an almost complete protein, it is a great addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet, especially when combined with other protein-rich foods such as beans or nuts. Millet is also a very good source of vitamins and minerals, as it is packed with B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese.
So, on to my millet tabouleh with pomegranate and pine nuts. I have to emphasise that good quality ingredients is key in this dish. Using fresh ingredients which would taste great by themselves, will ensure you end up with a finger licking end result. Also, as tabouleh is part of a mezze, I served my tabouleh with home made sweet potato falafel and a lemon & tahini dip. The combination of the three, in my opinion, is heavenly. Recipe for the falafel & tahini dip can be found here.
(serves 4-6 as a side)
• 1 ½ cups of millet (preferable soaked overnight or for at least 10 hours)
• 500 grams of cherry tomatoes (or normal tomatoes)
• ½ a cucumber
• 4 spring onions
• 1 pomegranate
• 1 bunch of parsley
• 1 bunch of mint
• 2 lemons
• Zest of 1 lemon (preferably only when organic & unwaxed)
• 1/2 cup of olive oil.. tablespoons.? (preferable cold-pressed)
• salt and pepper to taste
• Pine nuts
Cook the millet. Keep in mind that when soaked, the millet will cook faster than when un-soaked. To achieve the fluffiest millet, cook as following. Place the millet in a small pot and add water. Add as much water as 1 fingertip above the millet. Bring to a boil, and let boil on low heat. When the water has dissolved and you hear the bottom “pop” a little, turn of the heat. Stir with a fork, place a lid on the pot and let steam for another 10-15 minutes.
While the millet is still steaming, prepare your herbs and vegetables. Chop the parsley and mint as fine as you can. Chop the cucumber, tomatoes and scallions in small, equal pieces. Deseed the pomegranate. Zest the lemon.
Combine all ingredients, including the millet, together in a big bowl. Squeeze out the lemons over the tabbouleh (but watch out the seeds don’t fall in!). Add salt and pepper to taste. If you find it too lemony, you can add a little maple syrup or local honey to balance out the flavours. Stir to combine.
Roast the pine nuts in a dry pan until fragrant.
Assemble on a plate. Top with pine nuts, and serve with sweet potato falafel and a lemon & tahini dressing (or something else, if you prefer!).
© Feia Lydia Photography