Friday, August 24, 2007

"Help! My Garden Is Exploding!" Tabbouleh Salad

The Recipe

1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups water
1 cucumber
3 (large) - 6 (small) tomatoes
handful of chives OR 1/2 bunch scallions
1 can chickpeas, drained
bunch of flat-leaf/Italian parsley
bunch of mint
5 Tbsp. XV olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Bring water to a boil; add bulgur. Bring back up to boil; reduce to low heat and simmer about 10-15 minutes, until water is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Turn out into bowl to cool, occasionally fluffing with a fork.

Remove some of the cucumber seeds. Chop cucumber and tomatoes either fine or medium, as you like it; set aside in a bowl. Finely chop parsley and mint; finely slice scallions or chives (I use a scissors for chives. Makes life easier.) Drain chick peas. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice and cayenne together in small bowl.

By now, the tomatoes and cukes have exuded a lot of juice; drain it off. The bulgur should have cooled, too. Toss all salad ingredients together gently, then pour dressing over and toss lightly again.

Let cool in refrigerator at least one hour before serving. Is good while still a little warmer than fridge temp, but is also fine when cold for lunch tomorrow.

Serves 4-6 as dinner, 8-10 as a side dish.

The Story

This is the first meal I ever made for my husband, who was just some guy I was dating at the time. It worked out great for me! I've changed it over the years, but he still seems to like it.

By "bunch", I mean the approximate amount of parsley sold in a grocery store bundle. If you're inclined to measure, you want at least 1/2 cup of each finely chopped herb; more is good, especially when the mint is taking over because you forgot that you should always plant mint in a pot, not in the ground.

The last time I made this, I used a combo of red and yellow tomatoes, and it looked very pretty. Use what you have. I don't like to peel my cucumbers, but this is up to you. The salad will still have lots of green color without it, if you should feel it necessary to peel.

The chickpeas add a small element of texture as well as nutrition. If you want, a cooked chicken breast can be substituted; chop it up and mix with an extra 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Keep in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the salad, then toss in at the end. You can skip 'em both and just have a nice side salad.

In my grocery store, bulgur is both with the Latin American foods (Goya brand) and near the rice. You can use couscous if you can't find or don't like bulgur. Personally, I don't like couscous; but as always, it's your dinner and you should enjoy it.

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