I’m often amazed at the vast number of foods and dishes I have never ever tried or tasted until recently, and I’ve eaten my fair share of “unusual” foods (bird’s nest soup, jellied eels, thousand year old duck eggs, and haggis). I page through my cooking magazines, and I can almost see the thought bubble appearing over my head that spells out “W-T-F”? But W-T-F in a good way. As in, “O-M-G, I must try this, though first thing first–what the heck is a xuxu, and where can I find it?” Like that. (By the way? Xuxu is the Brazilian name for the chayote, which still makes me ask the question, what is a chayote?)
But this post isn’t about xuxus or chayotes or whatever you want to call them. It’s about tabbouleh.
The first time I had tabbouleh was about three months ago. At a clothes swap party my friend was hosting, including amongst the delicious spread of food was a container of store-bought tabbouleh. “It looks like salsa,” I said, “Middle Eastern salsa.” And yes, that is incredibly reductive, so to be less reductive, more specifically, it is a Levantine Arab salad mad primarily with parsley, mint, tomatoes, onions, and bulgur wheat. It is also an awesome word to say, like “marsupial” or “onomatopoeia.” And it’s also delicious, but I say that pretty much about every single dish I blog about here, because why would I blog about something that was a epic disaster?
You will need a lot of sliced and diced herbs and veggies for this dish, and while you can use a hand chopper, mandolin, or food processor, I find that in the end, me and my knife do just fine, thankyouverymuch.
- 1/4 cup bulgur wheat
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 cups diced tomatoes
- 1 small to medium onion, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 teaspoons lemon juice
- salt (kosher or sea salt) and pepper to taste
- Place the bulgur in a small mixing bowl. Add the boiling water, mix and cover with a towel.
- Let stand for 1 hour. Drain any excess water. Set aside.
- Combine the parsley, mint, tomatoes, onion, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Add the drained bulgur and mix well.
NOTE: I find that it tastes better if you let it sit and marinate in the lemon juice and olive oil for at least a few hours. Upon first tasting the fresh tabbouleh I had just prepared, my boyfriend said he enjoyed it but wasn’t generally impressed by the dish. But the next day, I came home to find almost the entire container of tabbouleh gone. A little time, a little patience, and a lot of flavor. In his words: “It tastes like fresh!”