Contrary to what we often experience in the West, tabbouleh is a Lebansese herb salad with bulgur, not a bulgur salad with herbs. The taste of a true tabouleh should be of herbs, not of wheat. Tabouleh is traditionally eaten by scooping up small amounts of it with pieces of romaine lettuce; not with a fork and knife, nor with pita bread. The lettuce leaves can be arranged on a platter at the start of a meal and everybody helps themselves. It also goes well next to most meat and fish dishes.
Adapted from Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
⅓ cup/30g fine bulgur wheat
2 large tomatoes, ripe but firm (10½ ounce in total)
1 shallot, finely chopped (3 tablespoons in total)
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus a little extra to finish
4 large bunches of flat-leaf parsley (5½ oz/160g in total)
3 bunches of mint (1½ oz/40g in total)
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon baharat spice mix (store bought or see Spice Mix recipe)
⅓ cup top-quality extra virgin olive oil
Seeds from ½ large pomegranate (70g in total),(optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Romaine lettuce leaves for serving
Put the bulgur in a fine sieve and run under cold water until the water coming through looks clear and most of the starch has been removed. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Use a small-serrated knife to cut the tomatoes into slices ¼ inch thick. Cut each slice into ¼ inch strips and then into dice. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the bowl, along with the shallot and lemon juice and stir well.
Take a few sprigs of parsley and pack them together tightly. Use a large, very sharp knife to trim off most of the stems and discard. Now use the knife to move up the stems and leaves, gradually feeding the knife in order to shred the parsley as finely as you can and trying to avoid cutting pieces wider than 1/32 inch wide. Add to the bowl.
Pick the mint leaves off the stems, pack a few together tightly, and shred them finely as you did the parsley; don’t chop them up too much as they tend to discolor. Add to the bowl.
Finally, add the allspice, baharat, olive oil, pomegranate, if using, and some salt and pepper.
Taste, and add more salt and pepper if you like, possibly a little bit of lemon juice, and serve