Couscous Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh, a salad of Levantine Arab origins, is typically made with bulgur, plus parsley, mint, lemon juice and olive oil.  This variation is made with couscous.  Couscous is a Berber dish  consisting of spherical granules made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat and then coating them with finely ground wheat flour. It has been around since the 13th century, and is a staple in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Western Libya. Couscous is traditionally served under a meat or vegetable stew. It can also be eaten alone, even sweetened a a dessert or breakfast dish.  While traditional couscous must be steamed several times, the couscous sold in most Western supermarkets has been pre-steamed and dried. It takes only a brief soaking in boiling water to be ready, making it a great fast food.  I confess that I frequently use couscous as a bed for curries and stews that I take out of the freezer when I’m too hungry to take the time to cook up rice or noodles.

This use of couscous is a bit different, but it makes a great salad ingredient. I’ve made lots of couscous salads from curried with raisins to mixed with tiny shrimp and peas.  I’m a great tabbouleh fan not only as a side dish, but as something to take for lunch.  Most tabbouleh has olive oil in it, but  I almost always eliminate the olive oil to reduce the number of fat grams (Yes, I know it’s “good fat”, but when you’re counting grams it still counts.)  No one has ever really noticed the lack of olive oil in the flavor of the tabbouleh.

Couscous Tabbouleh

1 cup water
¾ cup uncooked couscous
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 green onions, finely sliced
¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup  chopped fresh mint
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan (or bring to a boil in a medium bowl in the microwave), and gradually stir in couscous and salt. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, and fluff with a fork. Stir in tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. You may want to add more lemon juice.  Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend.  This makes 6 one-cup servings at about 1 gram of fat/serving.

couscous tabbouleh2


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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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