Sunday, February 24, 2013



This is a photo from David Libovitz's food blog.  It's what real Lebanese Tabbouleh should resemble.  It's not the heavily laced bulgur recipes of many of the top chefs.  It's real, healthy, fresh and delightful.

We made a trip to Peoria especially for Haddad Restaurant's Tabbouleh and Baba Ghanouj.  Died and gone to food heaven meal! 

Often, regional or ethnic food requires most of us to make a trip to a speciality food store.  The recipes often have processes that are long and unfamiliar to the average cook.  Not so with Tabbouleh. 

Not only is it wonderful and so good for you, it's possible to raise almost everything in your summer garden.

From Mama's Lebanese Kitchen

Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad Recipe
4 bunches - Italian Parsley, chopped finely, drained
1 bunch - Fresh green mint, chopped finely, drained
1 - Persian cucumber, chopped finely  (if using regular cuke, use only 4 inches)
5 - Medium sized tomatoes, chopped, drained
1 - Small white onion , chopped finely
1/4 C - Fine Burghul (fine cracked wheat #1)
1/3 - 1/2 C - Quality olive oil
1/2 C - Freshly squeezed lemon juice (only fresh will do)
1/2 - 2/3 tsp. - Salt
1/3 tsp. - Lebanese 7-Spices  *
(* Lebanese 7-Spices contain equal proportions of ground allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, Fenugreek, and powdered ginger.)
1.  Rinse all vegetables and let dry, especially the parsley and mint.
2.  Cut stems off parsley then chop tops finely.  Spread chopped parsley on paper towels and let rest for a few minutes in order to get rid of the moisture.  Parsley needs to be dry of moisture before adding to mixing bowl.
3.  Cut stems off mint and chop leaves finely.  Lay on paper towel and let dry.
4.  Chop tomatoes into small cubes of less than 1/2 inch and place in strainer to rid them of juice.
5.  Finely chop onions and mix with 7-spices.
6.  Finely chop cucumber.
Once mixed, Tabbouleh gets soggy quickly so even if you have all ingredients ready, don't mix until ready to serve.  Do not omit the drying and draining steps or the salad will be soggy. 
Add lemon juice on top of dry Burghul; add the olive oil and salt.  Gently and lightly mix all ingredients with a fork.  Too much mixing turns it soggy.  "Soggy" is not a good thing for this salad. 
It is often served on a lettuce or cabbage leaf.
I like to dip a piece of pita bread in Baba Ghanouj, then heap a spoonful of Tabbouleh on it and try to get it to my mouth before it slops down my chin.  I didn't say I was classy eating this.
Some like it with French fries, others as a side to meat and still others as a light summer lunch.
It's super healthy.  For those who must eat gluten free, I suggest experimenting with a few ground seeds in place of the wheat.  Nothing too powerful in flavor so as not to overwhelm the delicate balance of this salad.
If you're like me, I had to get over the thought of a mouthful of parsley and mint.  With this salad, it's the beautiful blend of subtle flavors.  (Spoiler alert:  take a trip to the restroom after eating this salad - I guarantee you will have enough parsley in your teeth to make a 12 year old boy hysterical.)
Garden tip:  Plant Italian parsley, mint (container it if you don't want it to spread), tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions this spring.  The fresh ingredients are easily found at local nurseries, seed catalogs, and farm stores.  This salad does not keep so having your own fresh supply will enable you to have it every single day.  With the exception of the onions, you could grow them in pots.

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