Friday, July 22, 2011

No such thing as too much tabbouleh

Tabbouleh, or Bulgur Salad by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
Hearty grain salads are not only healthy, they're handy to keep on hand for cool lunches on hot summer days. I've discovered the joys of quinoa this summer, and have now returned to an old favorite, tabbouleh, made with bulgur wheat.

And what exactly is bulgur? Thank you for asking - it's durum wheat with just a bit of the bran removed, then parboiled and dried. It's popular in Middle Eastern cuisines, especially in the Lebanese grain salad tabbouleh (two b's, one l). I buy the Bob's Red Mill brand in the organic section of the supermarket, and soak the wheat for about an hour before creating the salad.

The key to an excellent tabbouleh, I've found, is to hold off on adding the olive oil until you're ready to serve. Oily, cold grains make for a very unappetizing salad. I've also held back on the parsley, instead opting for a combination of parsley and mint.

Bulgur Wheat Salad

2 cups unsoaked bulgur

1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon salt

2 medium tomatoes, diced

Juice of one lemon

1 English cucumber, peeled and diced

Up to ¼ cup olive oil, as needed

Salad greens, for serving.

1. To soak bulgur, place two cups of the grain in a bowl, pour 2 cups water over and let sit for at least one hour.

2. In a bowl, stir together remaining ingredients, except for olive oil. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve.

3. Just before serving, stir in olive oil, starting with a tablespoon and adding until you get the texture and taste that you like – you may not use it all. Serve tabbouleh with salad greens. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container.

Tomatoes from my garden by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.

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