Rocking the Tabbouleh

2nd March, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy

Traditional tabbouleh is a wonderful Levantine parsley salad dish, generally made from bulgar wheat, seasoned with mint, lemon, olive oil and fresh green onions and tomatoes. It’s wonderful and healthful, and many variations can be found all over the middle-east. Remember, though, it’s a salad dish, with grain, not a grain dish with salad. The parsley really should feature prominently.

I’ve turned up the volume a little, and brought some new flavours to the more traditional, while still retaining its original spirit. Arugula brings a slightly peppery flavor, and preserved lemon offers a delightful, almost floral character. The sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, add a nice textural element and a little more intensity.

A suggestion of mint, green onions and tiny grape tomatoes complete the salad. It’s great as a side, or when served with a little feta, it can be the foundation of a lovely light supper.

Ingredients – serves 4-6

  • 2 cups Bulgar #2
  • 1-1/2 cup arugula, chopped
  • 1-2 cups flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 dozen mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup preserved lemon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch (8) green onions, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
  • 4 oil-cured wirri wirri chilies, finely minced*
  • 1 dozen grape tomatoes, sliced in half crosswise, or 1 cup coarsely diced Romas
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

For serving:

  • Crispy, fresh Romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried
  • Herbed feta, crumbled

*Wirri wirri is a Guyanese chili with an amazing flavor. I grow them, and preserve them in oil so they’re always on hand, but they’re otherwise impossible to find. They add a lively piquancy and a wonderful, fruity flavor. As an alternatives, use chili pequins (fresh or frozen are best) or even habaneros. The heat can be too much for some people, so use caution.

Method – active, 30 minutes; total time, about 2 hours

In a large covered saucepan, pour 4 cups of boiling water over the bulgar, cover, and let stand for an hour and a half or so. Drain, if necessary.

Once the grain is softened and fluffy, prepare remaining ingredients. Transfer bulgar to a large bowl, and add preserved lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped arugula, parsley, mint, and habanero. Toss gently to combine. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and combine. Cover and chill.

Just before serving, gently fold in green onions, chopped tomatoes, adjust seasoning, and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.

Serve with crisp Romaine lettuce leaves, and crumbled, herbed feta cheese. Roll the tabbouleh in the lettuce, along with a little of the feta, making delicious little “salad rolls” and eat with abandon. It may not be traditional, but it’s delicious! Accompany with a bright white, like a Sauvignon Blanc or a crisp, dry rosé.

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