Tabouleh, tabbouli, tabouli, or taboulah

I grew up in Arlington, Virginia, which is home to Lebanese Taverna – the food establishment I miss most in the whole world. I’ve tried to make tabouleh the way they do for years, and it’s never quite as good. But, it’s still worth making (and even more worth going to Arlington and eating theirs…). Tabouleh is wonderfully bright, acidic and fresh, and makes a bomb side dish for potlucks or any dinner. It will keep for 2-3 days after you make it, and is actually even better on day 2 when the flavors have marinated together a bit.

Ingredients:

  • 3 bunches of flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup of fresh, diced tomato (or more if desired)
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup bulgur wheat
  •  Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 cup mint leaves

Preparation:

Mix the lemon juice and olive oil plus 1 tsp of salt and pepper in a bowl, and then add 1/4 cup of dry, uncooked bulgur. You can find bulgur in most grocery stores, but I used Red Bulgur, which is all I could find at Safeway. Mix the bulgur into the bowl with the lemon, oil and salt/pepper, and let it sit while you do everything else. Make sure it sits at least 20-30 minutes, but because I take forever to chop things, mine sits for quite a bit longer. This lets the bulgur soften and soak up all the good flavors.

Wash and dry the parsley well. It really does need to be washed well (parsley often has a lot of grit) and dried well, otherwise it’ll stick together when you chop it and the tabouleh will have a less crisp feel to it. Chop the parsley well, or put it into a food processor. You want the parsley to be finely chopped, but still have some heft to it. I don’t remove the stems from mine, but you could if you don’t like their texture when you chew them. The thicker stems do tend to be a bit tough so you could remove those before chopping.

Finely dice the onion, tomato and garlic, and mix with the parsley in a larger mixing bowl. I don’t always use mint but it’s delicious and so if using mint, I recommend adding 3 tablespoons or so of finely chopped mint at this point as well.

Stir the soaked bulgur and juices in with the parsley, tomato, onion and garlic mixture. Taste and add more salt if the flavor doesn’t seem bright enough! The amounts of everything in tabouleh can be adjusted if you like it with more of any ingredient — more garlicky, more minty, more tomato-y, more lemon-y. You do you.

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