Monday, December 10, 2007

Mezze II - Tabouleh

Hands down, tabouleh is my favorite salad. It is what I want when it’s too hot out to even think about chewing, what my body will accept after a day or two of heavy holiday eating, and what I crave at least once a week. Scooped up with a crisp leaf of Romaine, every bite is filled with parsley, mint, bulghur, tomatoes, lemon and mild spices. Oh so good.

My love for this salad makes me very particular about it. Like many other mezze items, tabouleh has its variations based on culture. And now, due to its popularity, restaurants and markets make their own versions of what they call “tabouleh” which frustrate me. Cutting back on the cost of parsley, these little pre-packaged cups often are mounds of oily bulghur with flecks of parsley and tomato. No, no, no, no, no.

Yes it takes time, but tabouleh should be made the right way. It should be green, a beautiful green, with small chunks of tomato and flecks of beige, and a balanced dressing of lemon, olive oil, garlic, and spices. Do it right and oh how your body will appreciate it.


The Real Lebanese Tabouleh

(recipe handed down to me from Mom)

Ingredients

Serving 4

2 bunches of fresh parsley (curly preferred)
1 handful of fresh mint
1 medium tomato
2 green onion
1 small cucumber (optional)
3 tablespoons fine bulghur (#1)
1 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp red chilli pepper or paprika
½ tsp salt

There is a lot of chopping involved in this dish making this dish easy but definitely not a quickie.

Before washing the parsley and the mint, de-stem them. Picking off the leaves when they are dry makes the job much easier. Once done, rinse off the leaves well and then mince them. You want very small pieces. A great tool to chop parsley, or any herb for that matter, is the berceuse or mezzaluna (also called a triangle). I learned about this amazing tool through Chocolate & Zucchini, and ran to E. Dehillerin to pick one up that same week. You can get a fancier one from here.

Ok. So once you’ve minced the parsley and mint, move on to the tomato. Dice that into tiny pieces too. Do the same with the cucumber if you’re using it. Pile everything into a bowl as you go. Add the bulghur, the juice of half a lemon, the olive oil, the crushed garlic, and the spices. Toss it well and let sit for at least 15 minutes. The bulghur has to absorb all the liquids and soften. This isn’t a crunchy salad. I recommend letting it sit for 30 minutes or more so that all the flavours are absorbed into settled nicely.

1 comment:

Carmen said...

I'm sold--I'm getting myself a mezzaluna! haven't made tabouleh until now because of the tedious parsley mincing required. kebab has not been the same. thanks for the recipe, too!