We started off our Ramadan series with a Ramadan favourite, Sambousek, and today we are making two salads that would go great with the Sambousek as well as many other dishes on your Ramadan table. In the Middle East, we have salad almost every day in Ramadan and on normal days, we have it alongside many of our rice dishes and mezzes as a means of adding freshness and crunch, and these two salads do just that.
The first salad, tabbouleh, has definitely become a favourite around the world. The word tabbouleh comes from the Arabic word, tabal, which means to season, and if we think about it, salads are really just seasoned vegetables!
Tabbouleh only has a handful of ingredients, so you want to make sure they are fresh and of good quality to get the best result. Make sure you use fine bulghur wheat, rather than coarse bulghur, as we won't be cooking it, only soaking it for an hour. The amount of bulghur used varies from house to house, but I personally prefer more bulghur than parsley, while others like a lot of parsley with just a sprinkling of bulghur. It is really up to you.
One of the great things about tabbouleh is that, unlike many other salads, you can make it ahead of time and it allows the bulghur to soak up the lemon juice and olive oil and become extra flavourful! I suggest making the salad and letting it sit for at least half an hour before serving for maximum flavour, and don't forget to give your salad a taste before serving, as the bulghur absorbs a lot of the dressing, so you may find that it may need a bit more of lemon juice, olive oil, or salt.
I like to mix pomegranate seeds into my tabbouleh for another layer of flavour and texture, but this is optional, as tabbouleh is perfect just the way it is and really doesn't need any additions!
Serve this with any of your favourite mezzes or grilled meats, and you could even enjoy it on its own.
Our second salad is the lesser-known salata bil tahini, or salad with tahini paste, and that is basically what it is. This is quite popular in Palestine, as well as the Levant, and most of the time accompanies seafood, although there are many nights when I am happy to dip some toasted pitta bread into this salad and have it for dinner on its own.
The creaminess and nuttiness of the tahini paste really work well with the freshness and crunch of the tomatoes and cucumbers, while there is something about parsley and seafood that makes them a match made in heaven!
Making this salad is really straightforward, but the brand of tahini paste you use will determine how much water you'll need to loosen up the tahini. Don't worry if the tahini seems to thicken when you add the lemon juice, this is normal. You also shouldn't be worried if the tahini seems to break or separate when you add water, just keep mixing and it will come back together again! Like tabbouleh, this is also a salad that you could make ahead of time and keep in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Drizzle with some olive oil and enjoy!
2 large bunches of parsley (about 4 cups chopped)
1 large bunch of mint (about 1.5 cups chopped)
2 large spring onions
5 medium tomatoes
1 cup fine bulghur (soaked in warm water for an hour)
½ cup lemon juice, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil, or to taste
Salt to taste
Pomegranate seeds to garnish
- Soak the fine bulghur wheat in warm water for an hour.
- Finely chop the parsley, mint, spring onions and tomatoes and place in a large bowl.
- Add in your bulghur and mix well.
- Add in the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and adjust the dressing to your liking.
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds and enjoy.
Salata bil tahini ingredients
½ cup chopped parsley
½ an English cucumber
¼ cup lemon juice, or to taste
½ cup tahini paste, or to taste
Salt to taste
Splash of water to reach desired consistency
Olive oil to garnish
- Chop the parsley, tomatoes and cucumber finely and place in a bowl.
- Mix in the tahini paste, lemon juice and salt. Add a little bit of water to get to your desired consistency. The tahini paste will thicken with the addition of lemon juice but adding cold water will loosen it up again.
- Pour into a serving plate and drizzle generously with olive oil.