|Taboulleh Old Country Style|
Aug 2nd, 2006
There are some ethnic recipes that have spread beyond their culture of origin to be appropriated by the world at large - burritos and hummus spring to mind. Often the dish is altered slightly in translation, and it is the world-beat version that is then reprinted in umpteen food magazines, newspaper food sections, and cookbooks. So sometimes it's fun to go back to the source material and see what little details have been altered or left out.
I've been reading several Lebanese cookbooks lately, trying to determine which one shall come and live with me in my home, so when my latest veggie delivery offered up a plenitude of fresh parsley my thoughts immediately turned to taboulleh. Would taboulleh made from a Lebanese cookbook be any different than one made from say, Cooking Light?
First off my prediction that the Lebanese version would include more olive oil was proved correct. Three quarters of a cup! Now you're talking! Another element I don't recall seeing before, although I have not conducted a thorough investigation of taboulleh recipes, was steeping the chopped onion in allspice and salt for 20 minutes or so while the bulgur soaked. And the inclusion of soaked red lentils was definitely a new one for me. According to the author of Lebanese Mountain Cookery, soaked red lentils are used in place of chopped tomatoes when tomatoes are out of season, but can also be incorporated within the tomato version just for fun and extra crunch. I soaked my lentils overnight in the fridge, then drained them and promptly shoved them back in the fridge for another day or two while I hunted the greater Seattle area for bulgur. By the time I had procured the bulgur (PCC to the rescue) my lentils were trying to decide whether or not to become sprouts, but were still pleasantly nutty and crunchy when tossed in the salad. I don't know if they would be to everyone's taste however, so I consider them completely optional to the following recipe.
I did increase the amount of bulgur from the 1/2 cup of the original recipe to a full cup. I wanted more of a chewey, grainy salad, but if you like yours heavy on the veggies by all means go with the half cup. The resulting salad was addictively tangy and fresh-tasting, even after a few days in the fridge, and the perfect thing to pull out on a hot summer evening when the thought of turning on the stove makes you want to cry.
Tabbouleh Old Country Styleserves 6 - 81 cup medium or fine bulgur wheat
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp group allspice
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 - 2 tsp salt
3 cups finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1 - 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups fresh spearmint leaves, chopped fine
1 cup red lentils, soaked overnight (optional)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup olive oil
Soak bulgur for 20 minutes in enough water to rise about 1/2 inch above the level of the grain. Drain and set aside.
While bulgur is soaking, combine the chopped onion with the allspice, pepper, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. I would start with 1 tsp salt here and add more later if necessary.
In a large bowl combine parsley, scallions, tomatoes, mint, red lentils (if using), and the drained bulgur. Stir in seasoned onion and dress with lemon and oil.
-adapted from Lebanese Mountain Cookery by Mary Laird Hamady