Friday, June 10, 2011

Cool Summertime Meals: Tabbouleh

It's hot! The thermometer has been reaching close to 100 degrees here in Baltimore. There was a fabulous rainstorm last night and some light rain today, but cooking in the kitchen is still way low on my list of things to do.

All I wanted was a nice cool salad that was hearty enough to work as a meal.

First I searched the awesome recipe website Food52, which has some great recipes for desserts like Feta Frozen Yogurt with Blood Orange Granita (whaaaaat!) and a few light bites like Pan Bagnat with French Tuna Salad.

Those recipes looked great, but I wanted something that was more of a one-pot meal.

I started thinking of what was growing in my garden and what hearty grains I could add, then about the lemon juice in my fridge... and suddenly thought: Tabbouleh!

According to Wikipedia: Tabbouleh (Arabic: تبولة‎; also tabouleh or tab(b)ouli) is a Levantine salad traditionally made of bulgur, finely chopped parsley and mint, tomato and spring onion, seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil.[1][2]

Not only is tabbouleh cool and refreshing while also being very satisfying, it requires very little stove-top heat.

One recipe at Epicurious posts these directions for making the bulgur:

Stir together bulgur and 1 tablespoon oil in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over, then cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve, pressing on bulgur to remove any excess liquid.

Transfer bulgur to a bowl and toss with remaining ingredients, including 2 tablespoons oil, until combined well.

Just a little boiling of water and light chopping sounded great to me!

And don't be afraid to modify the recipe according to what you have on hand.

I didn't have any fresh parsley on hand and was too hot and exhausted from gardening to go to the store, so I just walked over to the Remington garden and picked myself some kale.

Fresh kale is so tender, and has a light spiciness to it that worked really well as replacement for the parsley.

Chicken-Man and I do have a bunch of mint growing on the back porch which I could have added. But since this was his first try at tabbouleh, I thought I'd ease him into the flavor and texture of it all. A cool salad of whole grains is somewhat unusual to a lot of people, and a bunch of mint in a salad isn't for everyone. Perhaps I'll try the mint next time and see which I prefer.

So glad to have cans of chopped tomatoes and lemon juice in the pantry! Must remember to keep them there at all times.

Sadly, no, these weren't my home-canned tomatoes, as those got eaten up a long time ago. Perhaps this year I will make more, but canning enough tomatoes to last me six months would be a full time job!

Easy Baltimore Summer Tabbouleh

Cook bulghur according to directions on package. (Or pour 1 cup boiling water over 1/2 cup bulgur, cover the bowl, and let steam for 15 minutes.)

Add the following ingredients to taste:

olive oil
chopped kale
chopped tomatoes
cracked black pepper
lemon juice

Make a large batch to store in the fridge!

Two cups of bulgur, a 16 ounce can of chopped tomatoes, and about four cups worth of chopped kale made at least six meal-sized servings of this salad.

Lovely for a summertime potluck, barbeque, or front-porch hangout!

(p.s. I will take advice about food photography! I have no idea what I'm doing other than setting the mode to "close-up.")

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