May 202015
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Kale Tabbouleh


I really enjoy eating traditional Lebanese Tabbouleh, but making it is a true labour of love! Although Tabbouleh is a very simple salad to make, there is one rather time-consuming step: separating the large quantity of parsley leaves from their stalks.


I am not the only one who finds this a big job. I’ve seen boxes of pre-chopped parsley in my supermarket in Dubai, so there must be others who struggle with the same thing. Of course, the problem with pre-chopped parsley is that it has very little flavour and aroma compared to freshly chopped parsley.


But then something happened which changed the way I make Tabbouleh.


This week I attended the official opening of The Farm House, a shop which sells local organic produce in the UAE. The event was hosted at The Change Initiative in Dubai where Chef Yogesh prepared amazingly fresh, seasonal dishes with a ‘twist’ using mostly local organic produce. One of the many delicious dishes he prepared was Kale Tabbouleh. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was hooked from the first bite. I knew immediately that I wanted to go home and try to replicate this dish. I don’t know exactly what Chef Yogesh’s recipe is, but I think I got pretty close to it with my version of Kale Tabbouleh.


I love the taste of this recipe, and I also love the fact that chopping kale is so much easier than chopping parsley. Unlike delicate parsley leaves which take a long time to separate from their stems, kale leaves come off very easily from their tough stalks.


The main thing to remember when using kale in a salad is the importance of massaging the leaves for a few minutes to break down their cellulose structure (I know it sounds weird, but trust me on this). Raw kale leaves are quite tough and it’s hard to get much flavour from them. Massaging the kale gives you a softer, more flavourful leaf. It also shrinks the leaves to about half their volume which makes them easier to toss with other ingredients. The technique for massaging kale is to tear or cut the kale leaves off their stalks, shred the leaves, place them in a large bowl, and rub and squeeze them between your hands for 3 minutes. By the end of the first minute, the kale will smell like a freshly mowed lawn and by the end of 3 minutes it will be very pliable and soft.


If you are a fan of kale, you will love this salad. If you are not a fan of kale, you will become a kale convert after eating this 😉


Share your thoughts in the comment section below: Do you like experimenting with traditional recipes and updating them, like this Kale Tabbouleh? Or do you think it’s better to leave traditional recipes as they are?


Kale Tabbouleh



(Serves 4 as a side dish; recipe can be doubled to serve more)


Dressing Ingredients:

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt


Salad Ingredients:

1 cup cooked bulgur (1/4 cup dried bulgur usually becomes 1 cup when cooked)

1/2 cup freshly boiled water

1/2 tsp salt

100g/3.5 oz kale (weight with the stalks removed)

2 scallions/spring onions (white and green parts), thinly sliced

2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

4 cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato, seeds removed and cut into small pieces



  1. Prepare the dressing by combining the extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and sea salt in the bottom of the bowl you plan to toss your salad in.
  2. To prepare your bulgur, follow the directions on the packaging. I made mine by combining 1/4 cup dried bulgur, 1/2 cup freshly boiled water (from the kettle) and 1/2 tsp salt into a pot with a lid. Cover and allow to sit for 20-25 minutes. Alternatively, you can boil the bulgur for 10-15 minutes in a pot of boiled water. Drain if necessary and spread on a plate to cool.
  3. To prepare the kale, remove the kale leaves from the tough stalk which runs the full length of the kale leaf. This can be done by pulling the leafy parts off by hand or cutting them off with a knife. Wash the leaves and then dry them thoroughly in a clean tea towel or kitchen cloth. Thinly shred the kale and put it into an empty bowl. Massage the shredded kale leaves with your hands by rubbing and squeezing it for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Finely chop your scallions/spring onions and mint leaves. Set aside.
  5. Deseed your tomatoes and cut into small pieces.
  6. Take the large salad bowl with the dressing in it, and add the kale, cooled bulgur, scallions/spring onions, mint and tomatoes.
  7. Toss all the ingredients well with the dressing.
  8. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  9. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  10. This salad will stay fresh in your refrigerator for 3 days.


Share your thoughts in the comment section below: Do you like experimenting with traditional recipes and updating them, like this Kale Tabbouleh? Or do you think it’s better to leave traditional recipes as they are?


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