Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh

This Middle-Eastern salad is a satisfying combination of chewy bulgur wheat, chopped parsley, slivers of fresh mint, and lemony raw vegetables.  It's a perfect side to thick slices of room temperature roasted lamb, chunks of simply grilled fish, or as the centerpiece of a lunch to take to work.

Bulgur is wheat that has been precooked, dried and cracked.  To make this salad, grains of bulgur are lightly soaked in water to make them soft (for a more forward flavor some will instead soak the grains in lemon or orange juice) and then added to chopped vegetables, especially roughly chopped leaves of flat-leafed parsley and shred of fresh mint.

Across the Middle East there are different preferences for the ratio of bulgur to parsley; some prefer the salad to be primarily grains of wheat with others make this as almost a parsley salad to which some bulgur has been added. 

I like this salad best when the bulgur is the foundation for the salad and the parsley has no more importance than the other chopped raw vegetables I add:  halves of cherry tomatoes, tiny dice of seedless cucumber, thin slices of scallions, drizzles of olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and a small crumble of tangy feta cheese.  Since feta is a sheep's milk cheese, I love to serve this salad with large shoulder lamb chops that have been broiled until the meat is medium rare and the edges of fat are golden and crispy.

Once you get the method down you can adjust the vegetables to whatever you like.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Rinse the bulgur with cool water and using a fine sieve.
  2. Add the bulgur to a large mixing bowl and cover with the boiling water. Place a plate or pan cover on top of the bowl to hold in the heat and let sit for about 20 minutes until the water is absorbed and the grains of wheat are tender and chewy. If there is any excess water, drain it off, pressing out the excess liquid.
  3. In a second bowl combine the chopped parsley, mint, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Toss to combine.
  4. Return the wheat to the mixing bowl and add the vegetable and parsley mixture and gently stir to combine so that the grains of wheat are dispersed throughout the vegetables. Taste, adjust for salt and pepper, and add more lemon juice if you'd like a more tangy flavor.
  5. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve but return to room temperature before serving for the best flavor.

Serve on a bed of romaine lettuce leaves and with half loaves of pita bread.  For a more substantial salad you can also add cooked shrimp or large cubes of cooked chicken.

Bulgur wheat can be bought by the box, usually sold alongside rice and barley, or more affordably by bulk at natural foods stores.

Category

Tags

SaladsBulgurGrainsMediterraneanMiddle-Eastern

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