Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tabbouleh--No Cooking Summer Meal

 One of my very favorite summer meals (or sides) is tabbouleh, which is a middle-eastern salad made with bulgur wheat (dried wheat that you must reconstitute with liquid).  It's a cool, light dish made with little effort, though the wheat must sit in water or lemon juice (perhaps other things) for an hour or so to plump up and be edible.  One of the joys is there's no cooking.  The needed water can be heated (some people don't even heat it) in the  microwave and that's quite a boon on really hot days when even turning on one burner sounds like punishment.  We  had 102 the other day in St. Paul and I refused to do anything but shred some salmon into a salad.  We would have gone out, but the old restaurants around us probably weren't any cooler.

A little research makes it appear that Lebanese tabbouleh contains more herbs than wheat and if you're interested in that version, check out David Lebovitz' recipe here.   While you're at it, cruise around David's lovely blog and come out wanting to read it regularly.  He also has a few books that are favorites of mine....  THE PERFECT SCOOP  and THE SWEET LIFE IN PARIS are two.  READY FOR DESSERT is the newest, I think...but go to Amazon and check out the fun list.  If I have to make ice cream, I look no further than THE PERFECT SCOOP and neither should you.

If you're ready to try my version, read below.  Mine is a combination of recipes (particularly Ina Garten's from THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA PARTIES --PAGE 113--  and the recipe on the back of Bob's Red Mill Bulgur Wheat). Change it up to suit you; why not?    This is all about vegan, vegetarian, healthy, filling, inexpensive (yes, you need fresh herbs no matter what) and...yummy.  Note:  I store my bulgur wheat in the freezer. Oh, and you can make tabbouleh tacos ( I do this; I don't know if anyone else does--read my article on or you can also listen to "The Tabbouleh Song" on youtube.  I think tabbouleh goes a long way... I'm thinking of tabbouleh stuffed green peppers or leaves of cabbage next.

Tabbouleh my Way

 1 c bulgur wheat (comes bulk in some stores  or in a 1-2# package by Bob's Red Mill or others.)
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
1 c boiling water
2 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of the above ingredients together well and let sit 45 minutes-1 hour.

 Meantime, chop

1 c fresh parsley
1/2 c fresh mint
1 c tomatoes
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded (peel with potato peeler, slice the whole thing in half lengthwise and, to remove
   the seeds, take a spoon and scrape it down the middle of each long half.)  If you use English (or hothouse) 
    cucumbers, you needn't peel them.  American cukes are often waxed and the skin is difficult to digest.)

Mix together with softened bulgur wheat mixture  and stir in

1/4 cup best quality you can afford extra virgin olive oil.

Taste and adjust seasonings.  Need more salt?  Try 1/4 t more.  Dull?  Add a few grinds more of black pepper or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or even a drop or two of hot sauce.  Just lacks something?  Think acid and squeeze a little more lemon juice into the mixture.  Let the ingredients have fun with one another for a bit and taste again.

Let sit 30-60 minutes before eating if you can wait.

Note:  If you're not going to eat all of this, only put tomatoes into today's portion.  Refrigerate the leftovers and add the rest of the tomatoes tomorrow when you'll eat the rest.

Gluten free?  Try quinoa or wild rice in place of bulgur wheat.

Lovely with grilled  (or just cut up and/or heated) pita bread and a bit of hummus and/or feta.

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself,


  1. Very interesting dish. I am so happy to have explored your blog. Wishing to explore more of it in the near future! Do keep in touch!

  2. Glad you liked it. Of course, this is a common dish...but not necessarily to young Americans just beginning to cook in their own apartments. This includes my daughter, who asked me to include my "recipe" in the blog. Come back or visit for a more in-depth blog.
    Happy cooking!


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