Summer Herb Tabbouleh

Refreshing, parsley-loaded tabbouleh reminds me of Christmas in Tallahassee, Florida.  Confused?  Strange as it may seem except for just a few Christmases when I couldn’t make it home, I’ve celebrated the holiday with pita, hummus, and tabbouleh for as long as I can remember.










How did this Southern girl end up celebrating Christmas with the dishes of the Middle East?  When my parents first moved to Tallahassee in the early 80s, they didn’t know anyone.  My brother and I were quite young at the time and when Christmas rolled around the thought of traveling was a little too much to bear so they decided to celebrate at home.  Three other families were in the same predicament and a Christmas day tradition was born.

Two of the four families that gathered for that first time on December 25, 1984 were originally from Iraq.  So when the Christmas potluck kicked off that year, the table held such delights as sweet potato casserole, glazed ham, turkey, tabbouleh, hummus, and pita.  A wonderful tradition, celebrated with the strangest culinary mash-up, had been born.

Today, the gathering is a bit larger and everyone can’t always attend.   Babies and spouses have joined the ranks and the kids at the kid table have grown up (although we still refuse to join the “adult-table”). Fortunately, while there’s been lots of change over the almost 30 years we’ve gathered, the food has mostly stayed the same.

And while I’ll still always associate tabbouleh with Christmas, I’ve decided that it needs to appear a bit more often on my table during the year.   The trick to authentic tabbouleh, after years of failed attempts, is making sure you add enough herbs.   You can’t add too much.   I repeat: you can’t add to much.  Did you get that?  Buy a lot of parsley (and I like a little mint).  Chop the herbs fine and then grab another handful and chop a few more.  While I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to recreate the original Tallahassee Christmas Day tabbouleh, I think this recipe makes a worthy dish for the rest of year.  Enjoy!

Summer Herb Tabbouleh – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 4

Typically I use flat leaf parsley in my cooking as curly leaf parsley reminds me of bad garnishes.  However, I’ve made an exception in this case.  I believe the curly parsley adds better texture and taste to the final product.  

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups minced fresh curly leaf parsley
¼ cup minced fresh mint
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
½ hothouse cucumber, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more to taste

Place the bulgur wheat in a medium bowl.  Pour the boiling water over the bulgur wheat and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Let the bulgur wheat sit for 30 minutes.   After 30 minutes, remove the plastic wrap and drain the bulgur wheat in a fine-mesh strainer.   Gently press down on the bulgur wheat with your hands to remove any excess water.

Return the drained bulgur wheat to the bowl and stir in the parsley, mint, tomato, and cucumber.  Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Drizzle the dressing over the bulgur wheat and vegetables and toss to combine.  Adjust the seasonings (if needed) then serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

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