Tabbouleh, Tabbouleh, Tabbouleh
Say that three times...
The year was 1975. I was living in Portland, Oregon, and had an opportunity to take a Lebanese cooking class sponsored by Mt. Hood Community College. The Lebanese community was just beginning to grow in Portland, and the two women instructors were reaching out to share their old family recipes in an attempt to inform the locals about their heritage - and as we have seen through the centuries the best way for communities to blend is to do it with food. It was a wonderful experience.
Phyllo, tahini, hummus, pita, and tabbouleh weren't items I could just run to my nearest home town market and purchase. I could barely find bulgur wheat, and I was born and raised in wheat country! Today? I can walk into almost every supermarket and buy all of the traditional Middle Eastern ingredients I need. However, back in the 1970s, I had to visit a few Portland Greek deli's for phyllo and tahini; so I could make some of the Lebanese dishes to share with family when I came home for the holidays. Believe it or not, but the tabbouleh was a hit at Grandma's traditional Thanksgiving table.
Through the years I have taken the original recipe I was taught and made it my own. I have added more bulgur and less mint - or sometimes no mint at all. YMMV - Your Mint May Vary.
How I like to eat it? The women instructors suggested serving tabbouleh with leaves of crisp romaine tucked inside and around the serving bowl. The leaves are meant to scoop the finely chopped salad like an edible spoon. I usually add the leaves when I am serving guests. It makes a pretty and unique presentation (see photos at the bottom of the page).
For myself? I often don't bother with the romaine "scoops," but I do enjoy scooping up the salad with torn pieces of whole wheat pita bread. Sometimes I will pile the tabbouleh on top of hummus, and I really enjoy a turkey sandwich stuffed in a pita and topped with lots of tabbouleh in the place of lettuce. With all of that lemony goodness from the dressing, you don't need any kind of sandwich spread. And it's good for you, too!
Ingredients:3/4 - 1 cup bulgur (dry)
2 medium tomatoes
1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 cup green onion, chopped using white and green of the onion (Or you may use a diced red onion or a blend of both green and red onions)
2 cups of parsley (2 bunches) I use curly parsley for the flavor (You may use flat or blend of both parsleys)
1/2 cup of fresh mint, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the bulgur in a sieve; drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add cold water to cover the grain. Cover the bowl and let soak for at least 2 hours until the bulgur is soft and tender. Drain off excess water.
Tear parsley from stems and toss the stems. Finely chop the parsley (also mint) by hand. Sorry, but chopping by hand is the only way. A blender or food processor will bruise and turn the parsley into mush.
Core the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Dice the tomatoes and add them to the bowl of bulgur. Stir in diced cucumbers, onions, parsley, and mint. Toss well to combine. Prepare the dressing in a small bowl. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Pour dressing over salad and toss thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. The curly parsley will hold up for 2-3 days and the salad will often taste even better.
A little side note - A "few" years ago I hosted a back yard gathering for a few women friends. "Middle-Aged Meets Middle Eastern Food" celebrating my 55th birthday. I spent a couple of days in the kitchen making hummus (traditional and roasted red bell pepper), tzatziki, curry cauliflower salad, tabbouleh (of course), chicken kebabs with peanut sauce, kofta (beef meatballs), baklava, and an assortment of breads, olives, nuts, crudites, and dried fruit.
|Tabbouleh taking the center stage with its flamboyant romaine leaves.