Time for Tabbouleh

In Recipies on March 31, 2011 at 8:57 am

“Tabouleh”, “Tebouleh”, “Tabbouleh”…

Almost as many ways  to spell it as there are for “Ghadafi”, “Khadafi”, “Khadhaffi”, or just “Daffy”.

I was introduced to tabbouleh (the way my spell-checker accepts it) about twenty years ago by Hanna, a fellow graduate student.  Hanna grew up in Israel and, in addition to his recipes, I enjoyed hearing his thoughts from an Arab-Christian perspective.  Over the years, I lost contact with Hanna.  I last heard he had decided to return to Israel where I hope he made himself happy and prosperous.

Tabbouleh is a bulgur wheat salad we especially enjoy with…tortilla chips.  It is traditionally served with crisp pita, but we love the salty corn taste of the tortilla chips alongside the tartness of the tabbouleh.  I have recently begun making a quinoa-based version.  Since quinoa is technically not a grain, some quinoa tabbouleh always finds its way to my table during Pesach (Passover).

(NOTE:  Observant Jews should consult with rabbis from their respective traditions for advice on whether or not quinoa is kosher for Passover.  “What is kosher” varies between traditions and among individual rabbis within some Jewish traditions.)

Let’s make tabbouleh!  (This makes a LOT.  I usually make half of this so it all gets eaten while it is at its freshest.)  I have broken the general recipe into two versions: 1) the traditional wheat-based recipe and 2) my quinoa-based recipe.

2 C bulgur wheat (medium grind)

2 C hot water (chicken broth for meat dish or vegetable stock for a pareve dish)

Place the bulgur in a medium-sized bowl and pour the water or stock/broth over it and mix well.  Allow to stand at least 2 hours in the refrigerator (overnight if possible).

!!!   OR   !!!

1 C quinoa, rinsed

2 C water or chicken stock, or vegetable broth

Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Stir in the rinsed quinoa and toast until golden.  Add water, stock, or broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Cook until liquid is absorbed.  When done, remove from heat and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.

Using one of the above as a base, now make the tabbouleh:

3-4 baby cucumbers (or 1/4 to 1/2 of an “English” or hothouse cuke), small dice

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into small dice

6 green onions, finely chopped (green parts too)

1 C Italian parsley, finely minced (or fresh cilantro, or 1/2 C dried parsley)

1/2 C fresh mint leaves, finely minced (or 2 TBS dried mint)

1/4 to 1/2 C lemon juice

8 TBS olive oil

1/2 to 1 tsp ground cumin

pinch of cayenne pepper

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all of the above with the bulgur or quinoa base prepared above.  Season with salt and pepper.  Allow to chill thoroughly and so the flavors will blend.  Serve on a bed of Romaine lettuce with pita crisps or tortilla chips.  I sometimes add the cumin during the stove top phase to the quinoa or bulgur for a more uniform flavor.  Add the cumin to the quinoa while it is toasting, so the cumin is toasted as well…releasing some wonderful aromas and tastes!  If you used dry herbs, it is a good idea to allow them to moisten a bit before eating.


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