Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tabbouleh Salad

Tabbouleh is one of the most popular salads in the Middle East- and now I know why.  I had seen it on restaurant menus, but was never really sure what it was.  After I watched Ina Garten make it on the Food Network one day, I was inspired to make it myself.  This version is made with bulgur wheat, lemon juice, fresh cucumber, mint, parsley, and green onion.  Mixing in feta cheese at the end adds some saltiness (and deliciousness) but the flavors of everything combined are amazing.  This salad is so fresh and healthy- it will definitely become a regular on our spring and summer menus. 
A note about bulgur wheat- this was a new ingredient for us, but we both really liked it.  It is a grain that has a texture similar to quinoa or cous cous and it is slightly nutty in taste.  In this recipe it is soaked in lemon juice, water, and olive oil, which gives it a wonderful flavor.  The best thing about it is the nutritional value- it is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals.  Also, it's a lot cheaper than quinoa.
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 1/2 cups boiling water
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 cup thinly sliced scallions (green and white parts)
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped parsley
4 oz crumbled feta cheese (we used feta with peppercorns)
Kosher salt

Place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl.  Pour in the boiling water, 1 teaspoon salt, the lemon juice, and the olive oil.  Cover and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour until all (or mostly all) the liquid has been absorbed. 
We still had a little bit of liquid in ours, but the bulgur wheat tasted like it was fully cooked.  The lemon juice and olive oil really give it a great flavor.

 Next, stir in your chopped vegetables and herbs.  Mix to combine well.  Finally, add the crumbled feta cheese.  Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper.

Refrigerate until ready to eat- it does taste better after it's had some time to let all of the flavors come together, but there's nothing wrong with digging in right away.  This is a great dish to bring to your summer potluck!  We had ours along side Cuban spiced pork tenderloin.  

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