The call of chirping birdies and the imagined smell of fresh cut grass is keeping me up at night. I don’t remember a winter this hard. Do I say that every year? Having lived with the caprice of a schizophrenic weather god the least little bit of spring fighting through has spurred my gastronomic desires. I can’t think of anything fresher or more restorative than tabooli to auspicate the occasion. Or a better reason to use the word “auspicate!” Ha!
Perhaps you know it as tabouli, tabbouleh, or tabulee but the popular Middle Eastern dish is actually an old Lebanese creation. Originally, the Lebanese made this with just parsley, oil, the seasonings and lemon juice and only later a little soaked burgul (aka cracked wheat) was added. A truly authentic Tabooli recipe is all about the parsley. Let me say that again. . A truly authentic Tabooli recipe is all about the parsley. I say that twice because I have seen this dish made with predominantly cracked wheat (bulgur) and that just ain’t right!!!! That’s not tabooli. That’s a burgul dish. As a matter of fact I often serve this dish without the bulgur because I try and stay gluten free as much as possible. This refreshing fiber and vitamin-rich recipe is delicious either way.
Authentic Lebanese Tabooli
8 cups parsley (approx. 4 large of bunches)
1/2 cup bulgur (cracked wheat) #1 fine grind
2 large finely chopped tomatoes
1 small white onion finely chopped
6 green onions finely chopped
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped fresh mint or 2 tablespoons dried
2 teaspoons salt
1.Before you start make sure the parsley is cleaned and dried. I either clean it the night before by soaking and rinsing a couple of times and setting out to dry for several hours, or I use a salad spinner to get the parsley nice and dry to cut.
2.If using bulgur soak in a ½ cup water and set aside
3. Finely chop the tomatoes and place in a large mixing bowl along with all the juices.
4. Finely chop onions and add to the tomatoes.
5. Add the salt and pepper, mix and set aside.
6. Chop the parsley as fine as possible. Start by taking each piece of parsley stalk and line it up in your hand by the flower end until you get a good hand full that you can control without losing grip of the pieces. Place the bunch on a cutting board and cut off the stems where the flowers begin. Grab the bunch in your fingers and squeeze for control much like making a chiffonade, and begin to chop the parsley as fine as you can readjusting your hold as you chop. Continue this process until all of the parsley is chopped. Add to tomatoes and onions
7. Finely chop the mint and add to the parsley bowl.
8. Add bulgur if using.
9. Add the lemon, oil, salt and pepper and mix well.
Serves 6 to 8
Tabooli can be served as a first course or a main dish. Try pairing with Milani Chicken. Yum!