Recipes, Salad, Sides

Tabbouleh

There’s quite an odd juxtaposition with tabbouleh (ta-BOO-lee) for multiple reasons. This isn’t one of your whip-it-up-in-a-pinch salads. It’s tedious. You have to really, really want tabbouleh. The zinger is that there are people who don’t enjoy tabbouleh. Parsley’s flavor is bitter and peppery, and its texture coarse and uninviting. Many think of it as a garnish that’s quickly tossed aside. While its scent is quite fresh, its texture will turn someone who has texture sensitivity off quicker than a light switch.

I know, I’m not really selling this so far, but there are just as many reasons to LOVE tabbouleh. If you’ve ever tasted a proper tabbouleh, you know that it’s 100% worth the effort. To many people, it’s delicious, healthy, and–did I mention–delicious? This dish checks off enough of the FDA’s Daily Values to do any nutritionist proud. It’s full of healthy fats, whole grains, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The ingredients play an important role in making this unapproachable herb into a delectable salad.

If you’re the foodie type…

The finely chopped parsley tames the coarse texture making it almost velvety to touch. The bulgur wheat provides weight and warm undertones. The mint’s refreshing and cool aromas compliment the bitter, peppery flavors. Lemon and extra virgin olive oil provide a tangy yet earthy flavor to play along with the umami and acidity of the tomatoes. Cucumber adds a light, refreshing crunch. Sharp and pungent flavors of onion battles with the boldness of the parsley. The best part about tabbouleh is that all these ingredients are distinctive when eaten alone, yet meld together to create one flavor that exhibits the goodness of those ingredients.

If you’re the sentimental type…

As I picked the parsley for the salad (at the kitchen sink of my childhood home), I had an immediate flashback to the age of twelve when I was summoned to pick parsley. Y’all, this was the worrrrrrrst. I was always overwhelmed by how tedious it was to separate each sprig of parsley from the stems. It’s funny how things change, though. I managed to find time to pick the parsley while my kiddos were enjoying their morning snack at the table. This time around I found it relaxing. I chopped all the ingredients during their lunch, and whipped up the dressing right before serving dinner. It’s no quick task, but the memories tied to this salad are worth the extra time.

If you’re the hungry type…

Ingredients

  • 4 bunches of parsley, picked and washed thoroughly, chopped finely
  • 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped fine
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup dried bulgur wheat
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Thoroughly wash the picked parsley by soaking it in a large bowl or (clean) sink full of cold water and salt. Use your hands to break up the parsley and allow the swooshing of the water to clean the leaves. Here’s the bad news–do this three times
  • Chop the parsley finely and place in a large bowl
  • Soak bulgur wheat in warm water for five to ten minutes then use your hands to scoop it out and squeeze excess liquid out
  • Add the remaining vegetables along with the bulgur wheat into the bowl
  • Add the extra virgin olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper. NOTE: you’ll need more salt than you’d think because of the density and blandness of the bulgur wheat. Please taste as you go and do not add a bunch of salt at the beginning. You can always add more, you can’t take it away!

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