Every time I crave tabbouleh I go to Aladdins Natural Eatery in Schoen Place and purchase two orders for carry out… and then gobble it all up as soon as I get home. I’ve tried finding it in local grocery stores- I’ve searched and asked and begged some stores to carry it.
I never took the time to think about making it myself- until yesterday. One quick search on epicurious.com presented me with so many options, I was ashamed I’d not thought of checking this out sooner.
I used this recipe as a guide. Aside from being slightly time consuming, I don’t see any drawbacks about making this middle eastern treat at home. Heck, I don’t even mind all the time it took me to chop everything up- it was a Sunday afternoon, a bit too chilly to be outside yet, futzing around in the kitchen makes me happy, and now I’ve got tons of this stuff tucked into my fridge for quick eats this week.
Here’s the lowdown on what I used:
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cuke, peeled, seeded and diced
1 bunch parsley, chopped fine
4 green onions, diced
4 radishes, diced
The bulgar is the only part that is cooked, and from all the different recipes I looked at it seems there isn’t really a wrong way to do it. I put a cup of it in a glass bowl, boiled water in a kettle on the stove and poured it in so there was about an inch of water above the bulgar. Covered with plastic wrap, it sits for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and then you squeeze the excess water from it. I chopped everything else up while waiting for the bulgar to hydrate and then mixed everything together. (I strongly recommend adding a mezzaluna to your kitchen gadget arsenal for the parsley- it’s also handy for chopping cilantro for fresh guacamole, or basil for caprese salad… or really for anytime you need to get leafy stuff into little bits. I’ve had this Kitchen Aid one for ages, and I can’t imagine making any of this without it.)
(Yes, traditional tabbouleh has mint in it. I don’t like mint, unless it’s mixed into my gin mojito. It’s not in my tabbouleh, but if you want to add it to yours I suggest going light at first and increasing the amount over time- it’s always easier to add more, but very difficult to take it away, and mint can be very overpowering.)
The dressing was simple- 6 Tbsp olive oil whisked with the juice from 1 1/2 freshly squeezed lemons, one large garlic clove (minced) and salt and pepper to taste. Combine about 2/3 of the dressing with the bulgar mixture, and reserve the rest for another use (unless you want tabbouleh soup.) You could probably make less of the dressing, but I think it’s easier to make a lot at once and hang on to the rest for other salads. (Because I take this approach with most dressings I make, I don’t remember the last time I purchased a bottle of salad dressing.)
Chill the salad. It will probably stay fresh in the fridge for about a week or so… but I’m not making any guarantees because I doubt it will even last that long in my house.
At the end of it all I had this awesome dinner. I dusted a chicken breast with poultry seasoning and threw it on the grill, laid down a bed of spinach to hold the tabbouleh, tossed avocado in some of the extra lemon/olive oil dressing and topped it all off with some mediterranean herb crumbled feta from Wegmans. (The glass of wine is Fox Run Vineyards Dry Riesling, and it was a perfect match.) The only disappointment was the pita bread. I wish I had the really flat, more traditional pita (like from Aladdins) instead of this fluffy pita thing. I asked 3 different people at my local Wegmans for the more traditional style pita, and they couldn’t help… but that’s one thing I’m not about to spend time trying to make at home.