When my grandmother was growing up, she and her family would eat tabbouleh in the summertime, especially for lunch on Fridays. They would stuff it in pita bread or lawasha with homemade cheese and caraway seeds, which they stored in ceramic pots, sealed with wax, and buried under ground. When she left the farm to marry my grandfather in Baghdad, she didn't have the same homemade cheese and bread, but tabbouleh remained a staple.
I still make tabbouleh exactly the same way, with plenty of herbs, bulgur, and tomatoes, although I also like to experiment with variations on the classic, such as my recipes for ruby fennel tabbouleh, tabbouleh verde, and tabbouleh margherita. Tabbouleh is more of a special-occasion salad, since it takes a little extra time to mince everything finely. If you've got a little extra time and you're expecting company, tabbouleh is the perfect choice.
Also known as tabouli
3-4 fresh plum tomatoes, diced small, with their juices (3/4 c diced)
The juice of 2 lemons (between 1/3 - 1/2 cup, to taste)
1/2 cup fine burghul/bulgur #1 *
1 big bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems removed
1 bunch green onions
4 sprigs of mint, stems removed
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
- If you're using fine burghul/bulgur #1, you do not need to cook your burghul in hot water; instead, soak the burghul in a bowl with the diced tomatoes, their juices, and lemon juice. If the mixture looks a little dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cold water. Let the mixture soak while you prep the rest of the ingredients (about 20 to 30 minutes). If you are using a coarser grain, or if you are not sure what kind of bulgur you have, follow the instructions below the recipe. *
- Wash and then finely chop the parsley, green onions, and mint leaves.
- Combine everything in a bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix well and serve.
* You can find burghul #1/fine bulgur at most Middle Eastern grocers. If you can't find a source near you, you can substitute couscous, cracked wheat, or coarse bulgur. However, these will need to be cooked in boiling water, according to the package instructions (or until al dente), rinsed, and then soaked with the tomatoes and lemon juice for about ten minutes. Burghul #1 is pre-cooked and very fine, so it doesn't need the extra step of being cooked in boiling water. Either way, it's going to be delicious!
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