Let’s Cook Something New: Tabbouleh

I love to get an order of tabbouleh when eating at Middle Eastern restaurants. Pasha, a Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant close to Rice University, is the favorite choice when we visit relatives in Houston. Their tabbouleh is outstanding. I’ve never cooked it myself but decided to give a new recipe a try.tabbouleh-img_2962

Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is parsley salad. The main ingredients are finely minced parsley and bulgur.
It contains other ingredients, too, such as tomatoes, onions, mint, garlic. The dressing is lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings. The tabbouleh from Pasha’s included cucumbers. The tomatoes and cucumbers were finely diced; so tiny that is was difficult to tell what they were in the salad. Here are the ingredients for my tabbouleh.ingredients-for-tabbouleh-img_2929

Pita Boy International Grocery

Since I didn’t know how to make tabbouleh, I headed out to my favorite international grocery market, Pita Boy. It has a wide selection of international foods and the staff is always willing to explain which ingredient to purchase depending on what I’m making. Their Facebook page says Pita Boy was established as an import store in 1996. It also says they closed January 31. I haven’t visited since this date; don’t know if it’s true–but it is sad to see a family market close. pita-boy-internatonal-store

At my last visit, I purchased bulgur and an expensive Lebanese cookbook which was highly recommended. Apparently everything was 50% off soon after I left; guess I paid the price.lebanese-cookbook-img_2937

What is bulgur?

I had never cooked with bulgur. According to my newly purchased Lebanese cookbook, it is “crushed wheat which has been boiled, dried in the sun and then ground.” The cookbook cautions not to substitute ordinary cracked wheat. The clerk in the store explained that there are different sieve sizes of bulgur — I needed a #2 size or medium size.bulgar-img_2935

And bulgur does swell up when soaked for an hour or so.bulgar-when-soaked-img_2943

Health Benefits of Bulgur and Parsley

Bulgur has a chewy, nutty taste. It is a healthy whole wheat containing the endosperm, germ and bran. The nutritional benefits are that it is high in fiber and contains protein as well as B-complex vitamins, iron and trace minerals especially potassium, manganese and zinc. Since bulgur is already cooked, it just needs to be soaked before adding it to the salad.

Parsley is healthy, too. It it very high in Vitamin A or carotene. In a college cooking cuisine class, the instructor stated, “you should always garnish the plates with parsley; then instruct your guests to eat the parsley because it is so healthy.” I always thought that was a little weird, but it was true.

Making the Recipe

The recipe contains only a few common ingredients. It is a very simple salad to make. The Lebanese recipe makes a large batch, using 5 cups of finely chopped parsley. This is 10 ounces or 3 bunches of parsley, as purchased. It would be easy to half the quantities in the recipe.parsley-img_2945

Add the soaked bulgur and chopped vegetables.chopped-vegetables-img_2951

Add the seasonings, which in my case was salt and pepper, lemon juice and olive oil. Very easy to make! A healthy salad.tabbouleh-img_2968

Here’s my adapted recipe

Tabbouleh

  • Servings: 4 cups
  • Time: 15 minutes plus 1 hour to soak the bulgur
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup #2 size bulgur
  • 5 cups finely chopped parsley (remove stems)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 bunch green onions with part of stems, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Method and Steps:

  1. Add bulgur to medium bowl and cover with water. Set in refrigerator to soak for an hour. Add more water if needed.
  2. Add finely chopped parsley to large bowl.
  3. Remove bulgur from refrigerator and drain off excess water. Add to parsley.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes, diced cucumber, sliced green onions and mix.
  5. Then add salt and pepper and mix.
  6. Before serving add lemon juice and olive oil. Stir to combine.

 

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