Salads are wonderful any time of year, but they are especially lovely in the spring and summer, aren't they?  Enjoying the warmer weather and seeing all of the emerging greenery really makes a person crave lighter, fresher foods.  One particular salad that I have been wanting lately is a Middle Eastern salad, tabbouleh.

Tabbouleh is one of the salads that I have grown up eating, and it's one of my favourites.  Ever since I can remember, my mom would bring a huge bowl of it to parties and we would always order it when we went to Lebanese restaurants in Houston.  The combination of parsley, mint and lemon juice is extremely refreshing and healthy.

As with most dishes, there are as many recipes for tabbouleh as there are grandmothers in the Middle East, but this is the way I like to make mine.

You will need:
  • 1 small onion
  • juice of 1 large lemon, divided
  • 1/4 C quick-cooking bulgur
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 bunch curly parsley
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • 3-4 sprigs mint
  • 5 small tomatoes (I used Campari)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

First step:  finely dice your onion.  Here, I do mean finely, unless you like big chunks of raw onion in your salad.  I don't, personally.

Next, combine the onion and half the lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir it well to make sure that all of the onion is in the juice.  Let that sit while you prepare everything else.  The acidity of the lemon juice will help to cut the raw, harsh flavor of the onion.  It will still taste oniony, just not overpoweringly so.

Now you can get the bulgur cooking.  Combine the half cup of water and the bulgur in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer 10 minutes.

One thing we don't want is soggy tabbouleh, so what we will do with the tomatoes is quarter them, scoop out all the seeds (you can use them elsewhere if you like.  I threw mine in with a pot of beans I had cooking - why waste?) and set the tomato quarters on a paper towel to dry off.

Now it's time to start chopping up your herbs.  In any order you like, chop up the parsleys and mint.  I don't bother with doing anything overly fine here because I do like the texture of the herbs, but feel free to chop them a little finer if you want a more uniform texture.  Add them to the bowl with the onions.

Dice the tomatoes (about a quarter of an inch or so) and toss them in the bowl too.

By now your bulgur is probably done, so fluff it with a fork and let it cool a few minutes.

And then add it to the bowl too.

Stir well and add the rest of the lemon juice and a good drizzle of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.  It's even better cold and works well the next day too (but if you do refrigerate it, don't add the tomatoes until just before serving.  Refrigeration makes icky, mealy tomatoes, which is why you should never store tomatoes in the fridge).  Feel free to double, triple or even quadruple this recipe to feed a crowd.  I've never seen even a picky eater turn down tabbouleh!

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