It’s been a long cold winter and my body’s been aching to eat something vibrant and green. It’s still a bit early for spring vegetables, but Tabouleh is a verdant salad you can put together with vegetables and herbs that are available all year.
While it’s a simple salad to prepare with very few ingredients, here are a few key points that separate a great tabouleh from a bowl of rabbit food.
- First, as with all simple dishes, it’s crucial to use the very best ingredients. This means good quality olive oil and fresh parsley. But the two most important things are to use ripe tomatoes and tender cucumbers. Since it’s not exactly the height of tomato season right now, I used cherry tomatoes, which tend to be sweeter. As for the cucumbers, I like using Lebanese cucumbers for my Tabouleh because they have tender skin, a nice crunchy texture, and just a bit of sweetness, but japanese cucumbers also work well. If you can’t find either, use a hot house cucumber (a.k.a. English cucumber), removing the seeds with a spoon.
- The second thing is to soak the bulgur in the dressing. Many recipes tell you to cook the bulgur. Bulgur wheat is par boiled before it’s dried and so putting it in boiling water will make it too soft. Traditional Tabouleh recipes usually call to soak the bulgur in cold water, but I prefer soaking it in the dressing because it absorbs the concentrated flavors of the dressing, keeping the finished salad from tasting watery.
- Lastly, don’t be afraid of the parsley. According to Wikipedia “The Levantine Arabic tabbūle is derived from the Arabic word tabil, meaning seasoning.” since bulgur isn’t much of a seasoning one can only imagine that the name is referring to the potent herbs that go into the salad. I know many people are used to thinking of parsley as an inedible garnish that comes with your meal at Denny’s, but it was an herb before it was a garnish. It’s also loaded with anti-oxidants and is even purported to slow the growth of tumors.
Tabouleh tastes great the day it’s made, but I think it’s even the better the next day. Serve it as part of a Meze, or on a bed of greens as a salad.
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