This is not an authentic tabbouleh – there is no bulgur wheat and nowhere near the requisite quantity of parsley. Instead, I’ve used wholewheat giant couscous, which I love for its nutty flavor and big, toothsome grains. The recipe is inspired by the flavors of Middle Eastern salads: the crunch of cucumber, the fragrance of grassy parsley and mint, and a good glug of olive oil to dress the lot. It’s brightened with lemon and the intriguing perfume of orange blossom and finally tossed with slivers of golden apricot. This is one to make when you are lucky enough to find perfectly ripe apricots. Out of season you can use dried, and if you find yourself with woolly, lackluster fresh apricots, the searing heat of a griddle pan is a good way to pep them up. This salad works very well as a side with barbecued meats and fish but is also very good with fried halloumi, or crumbled feta, or goat’s cheese for a simple vegetarian main course.
Serves 6 as a side
200g giant couscous (preferably wholewheat)
2 small (Lebanese) cucumbers or 1 regular cucumber, sliced lengthways and deseeded
500g ripe apricots, halved and stoned, or 200g dried apricots, soaked in hot (not boiling) water for 1 hour
25g parsley, finely chopped
30g mint leaves, finely chopped
finely grated zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1
1 teaspoon sumac
3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
½ teaspoon orange-blossom water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and add the couscous. Cook according to the packet instructions until al dente (usually around 10–12 minutes). Drain well and set aside.
Chop the cucumber(s) into 1cm dice and place the dice in a large mixing or salad bowl. If using fresh apricots, chop them into thick slivers. If using dried apricots, drain them, dry them on kitchen paper, and roughly chop. Add the apricot pieces to the bowl along with the parsley, mint, and lemon zest. Then, add the couscous, lemon juice, sumac, olive oil, and orange-blossom water. Season with salt and pepper to taste, toss well to combine, and serve.