This delightful salad originally came from Lebanon and Syria and I’m betting most Americans have had it (or at least seen it on a salad bar). Wikipedia tells me the name comes from the Arabic word meaning “little spicy,” though this salad isn’t at all spicy. It also tells me the American version of this salad is known as “Eetch,” but I’ve never heard of that! Careful with that Wiki!
I make a salad for Craig’s lunch each day. In order to keep him from dying of boredom, we tuck various goodies into two of the corners of the oblong container I send to work with him. Sometimes it’s a scoop of tuna, sometimes a bean salad, sometimes some hummous. He was bringing home tabbouleh from Costco for about a year when I casually mentioned that I used to make it often years ago and had a pretty good recipe. Once I whipped up a batch, there was no turning back for him!
Now, I’ve gotta be honest: This can be a labor intensive salad to make if you do it the way I do, but the results are well worth the effort. I make it on the weekend, usually, and once I did it a few times I got the time down to about 45 minutes. It’s mostly chopping and pinching work, as you’ll see. Since there is so much parsley in the salad, I believe it’s important to take care to keep stems out of the bowl for the most pleasant eating. Ya just can’t do that with a knife. So, I pinch off each little trio of leaves by hand and discard all the stems. Most recipes call for the parsley to be finely minced, but I like the leaves just as they come off the bunch (plus, it saves a lot of time after all that pinching).
Served as a side (though it can be a meal!), this batch will serve 8-10. It barely makes it through the week for us since we both love it. And, that’s good since tabbouleh really needs to be fresh to be amazing. Craig’s very fond of lemon in Middle Eastern dishes, so I make this very bright. It’s almost surprisingly citrusy, which will make you the hit of the pot luck if you bring this along!
3/4 cup bulgur (aka: cracked wheat or burghul)
2 tsp olive oil
3 cups chopped curly-leaf parsley (stems removed)
1 cup finely chopped fresh mint
4 whole spring onions, finely minced (aka: green onion or scallion)
1 large beefsteak or heirloom tomato, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (I use 1 tsp of jarred minced garlic for this)
In a large bowl, soak the bulgur in 3/4 cup of boiling water and 2 tsp of olive oil for 10 minutes (stir before leaving to soak). Stir again and set aside.
Chop your herbs, onion and tomato while the bulgur is cooling. The cooler it is when you add the rest of the ingredients, the better.
In a second bowl, combine the spring onion, mint, and parsley, taking care to pinch off the parsley leaves and remove as much stem as possible. You can tear or chop particularly large leaves or clusters, but leave smaller leaves intact.
Cut the tomato into 1/2-inch chunks.
Prepare the dressing by combining the 1/2 cup of olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.
Drain the bulgur of any excess water and add the herbs, onion, and tomato. Toss to combine well. Pour in the dressing and toss again, making sure everything is well coated. (The bulgur will want to collect on the bottom of the bowl. Don’t let it.)
Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
Served with hummous and warmed pita bread, this can be a meal in itself. We’re planning to serve it with some charcoal-grill roasted chicken too, for an upcoming dinner party. Stay tuned for Craig’s amazing Spinach Pie recipe, which is also great with tabbouleh if you’re going for that Middle Eastern or Greek experience.
Your Daily Bread
Luke 3:15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.