Lebanese Tabbouleh

If there is a downside to collecting a lot of recipes, it is the inevitable setting aside or misplacing of some good ones. I printed out this recipe for Lebanese Tabbouleh from the N.Y. Times in June of 2009. Part of a series called “Recipes for Health: A Focus on Fresh Herbs,” I thought it would be a refreshing summer salad. I am sure it would have been, but it was one of those forgotten recipes. I ran across it again as I was digging through salad recipes last week, and I decided it was time to give it a try, summer or not, and I think it is worth sharing with you.

Lebanese Tabbouleh

1/4 cup fine bulgur wheat
1 small garlic clove, minced (optional)
Juice of 2 large lemons, to taste
3 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 3 large bunches)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 pound ripe tomatoes, very finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 romaine lettuce heart, leaves separated, washed and dried

1. Place the bulgur in a bowl, and cover with water by 1/2 inch. Soak for 20 minutes, until slightly softened. Drain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, and press the bulgur against the strainer to squeeze out excess water. Transfer to a large bowl, and toss with the garlic, lemon juice, parsley, mint, tomatoes, scallions and salt. Leave at room temperature or in the refrigerator for two to three hours, so that the bulgur can continue to absorb liquid and swell.

2. Add the olive oil, toss together, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with lettuce leaves.

Yield: Serves six as part of a larger Middle Eastern appetizer spread (mezze), four as a salad.

Advance preparation: This will keep for a day in the refrigerator, though the bright green color will fade because of the lemon juice.

Melissa’s Notes:

I strayed from the recipe slightly, using the juice of only one lemon, and omitting the salt entirely.

The recipe calls for three bunches of parsley, and I bought three bunches of parsley. I was left with almost two bunches of parsley that I did not use. By the time I had chopped up a little more than one bunch, I had plenty.

We served it over a bed of romaine hearts along with bread. My husband had seconds, I had a pretty generous first helping, and our two children each had a smaller portion. We had enough leftover for lunch the next day.

My husband’s comment: “This is a strange salad. I like it.” He went on to say how much he liked it a few more times, and he said it was like eating an herb garden.

Both children ate it without question or complaint, and you know I like that!

Do you like to use fresh herbs in your salads or cooking? What are some of your favorite uses?

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