Before I share today’s recipe, I guess I owe you guys an explanation for the sporadic posts this month and for being away from all your wonderful blogs. I haven’t been on vacation or anything (I wish !), it’s just the third trimester taking its toll. I haven’t been able to spend more than thirty minutes, make that ten, behind my laptop without suffering from a terrible headache that won’t go away unless I turn out the lights and get some sleep. Too much sleep, for all I know, but I am trying to see the positive side of things. After all, I might as well get some quality sleep while I still can! If headaches are not enough, add to them increased heart palpitations and shortness of breath while cooking in a heating up kitchen. So I found myself recently mixing up a salad for lunch and grilling, or broiling some sort of lean protein to go with it. So no new recipe experiments to share as well. Other than that, I am enjoying my screen free time with some good music and I am still meditating and practicing breathing exercises which always seem to help when the headaches are not quite that strong. By the way, it took me about four days to finish this post! Productivity at its best !
Anyway back to the recipe, back to my favorite Lebanese dish, the ever so loved tabbouleh. I don’t want to sound conceited, but I do make one pretty tasty succulent tabbouleh and ever since I started blogging, my husband is begging me to post my recipe. But the thing is I don’t have any recipe, I just follow my sense of smell! Say what? I guess every Lebanese who has ever prepared tabbouleh has done the same. When the tabbouleh smells right, I know that the seasoning is perfect and the lemon to oil ratio is exact. I have never measured how much parsley goes in there or onions or mint or lemon juice and so it never got posted. Can you imagine the kind of recipe? Mix all ingredients and smell the aroma! If it smells like tabbouleh, you’re done, if not, keep adjusting the salt, lemon and oil. Weird, right? Not for me, though. But say, you gave me the benefit of the doubt and played along my way, what does tabbouleh really smell like? I’d say fresh, herby, zesty, and all the adjectives of deliciousness you can come up with!!
Traditional tabbouleh is NOT bulgur based, it is parsley based. I just flinch at the sight of all the tabbouleh recipes out there that just don’t do the dish any justice. Soaking one cup of bulgur in chicken stock? No, thanks! Adding radishes, cucumbers, or grilled vegetables? Double no thanks! Using quinoa or lentils instead of bulgur to make it gluten-free? Okay! But I’d say omit the bulgur altogether; it is not the star ingredient. If you still want to use lentils or quinoa as the main ingredients, just call it a lentil salad or a quinoa salad but please don’t call it tabbouleh!
So for posting the recipe, I measured and tasted and smelled and here it is! The parsley bunches I used were rather on the smaller side this time, so maybe you would need only two to yield four to five cups chopped. As for the lemon, I prefer to add a bit more than what I mentioned but I am a big fan of citrus. My husband prefers it on the milder side. So, start with a quarter cup and if you like add around two more tablespoons. Some people would disagree with the scant amount of bulgur I add, but believe me, you don’t need more. But hey, you are eating this and don’t let me discourage you. You can go up to a quarter cup of the finely ground variety.
Ingredients ( 5-6 servings)
- 4 bunches parsley, chopped ( will lead around 4- 5 cups chopped parsley)
- 1 bunch mint, leaves picked and chopped ( around 1 cup)
- 4 medium tomatoes, juice and seeds included
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons fine ground bulgur, rinsed
- 3/4 – 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 lemons, juiced ( around 1/4 cup), 1 of them zested
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Rinse the bulgur thoroughly and set in a bowl. No need to soak in boiling water at all. Prepare the parsley, discard the stalks and chop the leaves rather finely. Pick the mint leaves and finely chop as well. My earliest cooking memory would definitely be helping mum pick up mint leaves and arranging parsley in beautiful homogeneous bunches on Saturday afternoon in preparation for Sunday lunch. What’s a Lebanese family lunch without the tabbouleh and the hummus? I used to dread these afternoons; I didn’t want to pick leaves, I wanted to do some chopping. Of course, I was too young to handle a knife, but thinking of these moments now is so endearing. You have to appreciate every step that goes into the making of a great dish, right? Not to mention that my leaf-picking skills got much better !
Dice the tomatoes and add them to your bowl. Finely dice the onion and sprinkle it with some salt and allspice and then pass your knife over it a few times till the onion is well-seasoned. This will release the onion juices and flavor the whole dish. If you’re not eating it directly, this is the time where I’d put it in the fridge to cool. Right before serving, add the lemon juice, lemon zest, oil and salt. Taste for extra seasoning and enjoy the authentic Lebanese experience.
If you have verjuice or verjus, a very acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes ( sharab al hosroum in Arabic) and like the sour, tart taste, I recommend you try it instead of some of the lemon juice.
Serve it with romaine lettuce, cabbage leaves or fresh vine leaves. My husband loves to have it with a hot green chili pepper. I, on the other hand, love some crunch. I got this from my mum who sprinkles a small handful of roasted peanuts on top of her plate. I don’t do that every time I have tabbouleh but sometimes I just feel like having an extra salty bite.
So this is my tabbouleh. I hope you’ll give it a try!
Bon appetit or as we say in Lebanon sahtein !