Tabbouleh salad is a popular Middle Eastern/Levantine dish. It is traditionally served as mezze, or appetizers, along with hummus, baba ghanouj, dolmas, and pita bread. Traditionally, it is made of tomatoes, parsley, mint, bulgur and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. My recipe adds dried cranberries for sweetness, and cayenne pepper for some heat. I often prefer my salads to have sweet, salty, tangy, spicy, and a strong fresh herb component to it. It makes it more appetizing and satisfying, especially to someone who is watching their caloric intake like me. Bulgur has a lower glycemic index and is packed with higher levels of vitamins and minerals. This makes it a healthier substitute for rice, pasta, or couscous. If using bulgur as your main carbohydrate source, prepare the recipe as is, but if you plan on having it as an accompaniment or side, cut the bulgur in half, then double the amount of parsley. This recipe will be more in line with the traditional way the Lebanese prepare it.
A quick note about bulgur, it is made from the grains of several different wheat species, usually durum wheat. Whole-grain, high-fiber bulgur and cracked wheat can be found in natural food stores, Middle Eastern specialty grocers, and most traditional grocery stores. It has a light, nutty, slightly sweet flavor; and comes in four distinct grinds or sizes (#1 Fine, #2 Medium, #3 Coarse and #4 Extra Coarse). It is often used in pilafs, soups, stuffing, and is commonly used all over the Middle East, the Mediterranean region, and as far as Northern India.
1 c bulgur # 2
1 c water
1 tomato, roughly chopped
½ c white onion, chopped finely
½ c green bell pepper, chopped finely
¼ c dried cranberries (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it with a kick)
Salt & pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice (or 2 lemons)
- Boil the water. While waiting, place the bulgur in a bowl and mix in salt and pepper. Add the hot water, and cover the bowl for 5 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.
- Add 1 tbsp. of olive oil to the prepared bulgur and fluff with a fork. Add the tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, parsley, and half the minced garlic. Toss salad lightly.
- In a smaller separate bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil and garlic, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Continue whisking until the vinaigrette emulsifies. Pour on top of salad and mix more thoroughly.