Traditional Lebanese tabbouleh is essentially parsley salad dressed in lemon juice and olive oil, with a few grains, tomatoes, scallions, and mint thrown in for variety. Though fun to pronounce and undoubtedly healthy, I'm admittedly not too crazy about the dish. I find it pretty dry, and eating a forkful kind of makes me feel like a bunny.
Americanized versions of tabbouleh aren't totally satisfactory to me either, but for different reasons. Recipes tend to switch the grain-to-parsley ratio and positively drown everything in olive oil. While this solves the dryness problem, the oil frequently mutes the herbs, vegetables, and natural nuttiness of the bulgur.
This hybrid, then, seems like a nice compromise. It's a grain salad inspired by the customary flavors of Lebanese tabbouleh, minus the heaviness of its American adaptations. It's not unlike Greek Orzo Salad from a few weeks ago, except, y'know, using totally different ingredients.
In making the dish, I scaled down the oil to only three tablespoons, letting lemon juice and parsley become the dominant notes. Diced cucumber and a heaping of fresh tomato kept everything moist, while a quarter cup of toasted almonds provided crunch and an excellent complement to the bulgur. I left the chopped mint out, but a handful wouldn't hurt anyone.
The result was an excellent summer side dish, with enough leftovers to make office lunches for a few days. If you should make it, know that vegans and carnivores will appreciate it equally, though I can't speak for bunnies.
- 1 cup bulgur wheat, uncooked
- 1/2 large cucumber, seeded and diced
- 1 cup seeded, diced tomato
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Cook bulgur wheat as directed. When finished, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. (Note: Make sure your colander or sieve has fine holes, or the bulgur will escape.) Drain and add to a large bowl.
Add cucumber, tomato, scallions, parsley, and almonds to the bulgur. Stir thoroughly to combine.
Douse with lemon juice and olive oil. Salt to taste. You can add pepper as well, but the parsley should provide sufficient peppery flavor. Stir. Serve cold or at room temperature, but preferably cold.