Friday, September 16, 2011

Tabbouleh. I could live on this.

Many of you on NutriMirror have read my posts about the Mediterranean restaurant that my friends and I love to visit for lunch.  The food at Azars is wonderful, and their hummus is available in local grocery stores.  I always have some in my fridge. 

One day on a lunch date at Azars, I ordered the tabbouleh salad.  I was hooked with my first bite.  Lemony and scrumptious, it's one of my favorite things now and I always order it, either as an entree or as an appetizer.  I could seriously eat this every day.  So, I'm going to.  I'm making a batch of it today, using Ina Garten's recipe.

Copyright 2001, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, All Rights Reserved
Rated 4 stars out of 5
Total Time: 31 min.
Prep   30 min.
Inactive   1 min.
Yield:  8 servings


1 cup bulghur wheat
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup good olive oil
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (1 bunch)
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Place the bulghur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper; mix well. Season, to taste, and serve or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours.
Luckily for me, the flat-leaf parsley I planted last Spring is still going strong.  On the other hand, my mint, which I planted in a big pot to keep it from taking over the world, has died back and there isn't enough new growth for this recipe.  I am headed to the grocery store and have high hopes of finding bulghur wheat and mint.  I don't recall seeing either of these at the store in the past, but then again, I wasn't looking for them.

My plan was to go to the beach, take a nice long power walk on the boardwalk, then go to the grocery store.  Unfortunately, black rain clouds were everywhere - the last thing I want is to get drenched on the boardwalk 28 blocks from my car, and then go shopping.  I cancelled the beach walk plan and went straight to the grocery store.

Two hours later, and I'm home from the grocery store.  The store did have mint, but a bunch of it was $2.49!  I cursed as I put it in my shopping cart.  I should have checked the price of parsley to make myself feel better about having it in my garden, but didn't think of that as I headed for the bulghur wheat department.  Harris Teeter has a pretty good selection of beans, grains, rices - but the only bulghur I could find proudly proclaimed "with added soy flakes!"  Since this was my only option, I bought a box.

After I left the store, I decided to check the local health food store for real bulghur.  I headed there, only to find they wouldn't open for another 20 minutes.  I decided I could go to the bank while I waited for Heritage to open.  I turned on a little back road, thinking I'd take the short cut.  Apparently I need to pay better attention when I take the short cut.  The road I took went through a very ritzy area, with giant mansions on the water and yachts floating around, then by the golf course, and then to a dead end.  I turned around, headed back out, and remembered a new branch of my bank, closer than the one I had attempted to short-cut to. 

I went to the new bank, pulled into the parking lot, and parked where it said "temporary parking for walk-up ATM customers."  I got out, walked to the ATM, and the screen apologetically told me that the ATM was currently unavailable.   To get out of the bank parking lot (which I also noticed was being paved - apparently this branch isn't open for business at all!  A SIGN WOULD BE NICE, PEOPLE) it was much easier to take a right out of the parking lot than to try to take a left across 4 lanes of traffic.  This gave me the chance to turn around in another parking lot and head to the nearby Starbucks, where I could get a chai latte and simmer down for a while. 

On the way to Starbucks, I passed Fresh Market and remembered that they have bins of nuts and seeds and stuff, and decided to check there for bulghur.  They had it!  (Thank you, Universe)  They also had honey crisp apples, which I have been waiting for since last Fall.  I walked out of Fresh Market with 4 honey crisp apples the size of softballs, 2 things of bulghur wheat, some asiago cheese baguettes, a clif bar, and at the check out stand, an impulse buy of felafal chips, which will go great with tabbouleh!  Score!

At this point I was starving, so I got in the car and ate my clif bar.  This got me past my Starbucks chai latte urge so I came home.  As I unpacked the grocery bags, I remembered that I'd bought yogurt and it had been sitting in my trunk while I wandered around town not going to the bank or buying bulghur.  Now I'm not even in the mood to make tabbouleh.  The ironic thing is, I was on the same block as Azars when I was at Fresh Market and could have saved myself time and about $60 if I'd just gone there in the first place and ordered some take out.

NEW PLAN:  Drink a bunch of water, surf the net, and try to get back into the mood to cook.

Afternoon Update!  I made tabbouli.  It's delicious, but I only licked the spoon.  I covered it and put it in the refrigerator to age for a while. 

I have to say that as much as I like Ina Garten, I've always felt she has a heavy hand with the salt.  This recipe called for 3.5 teaspoons.  I put 1.5 and it's borderline too salty!  Next time, I will only use .5 teaspoon.  I hate adding salt to recipes.  Over time, most of my recipes have had the salt reduced, then when I got used to that saltiness I would reduce it again. My granola recipe has gone from 1 teaspoon to just a grind or two of the salt grinder.

Anyway, here's a picture of the tabbouleh:

Looks delicious, right?
I'm so happy my parsley is still doing well.  It's growing at the peahouse.  Now that all the cucumbers and melons have been removed from the peahouse, and sun can get in, the parsley really took off.  Come to think of it, ever since that 30-foot tree blew over in hurricane Irene and we replaced it with a 4-foot Japanese maple, the flowers out front are growing a lot better too.  Amazing what sunlight can do.

Parsley Patch
So now a word about the mint.  It was a little bundle when I bought it, but when I took the rubber bands off of the bundle to wash the mint, the mint expanded into a huge amount.  Admittedly, I did not use a whole cup of chopped mint in my tabbouli.  I used about 1/4 a cup.  I also didn't use an entire European cucumber, I used half of a regular one.  And I only used 1/4 a cup of parsley.  I want to notice the bulghur wheat when I eat it.

Seriously, I've got enough mint left to make several more batches of tabbouleh.  Oh boy!  I hope it doesn't wilt.  I'm going to wrap it in a slightly damp paper towel and put it in a freezer bag and into the refrigerator, because I think I saw that on TV somewhere once.  I've never had leftover mint before.

Leftover mint and leftover 1/2 lemon
 See those Falafel Chips in the background?  They are DELICIOUS and I urge you to try them if you ever see them in the store!


  1. Flamous? What exactly is flamous? Love it!

  2. To be exact, Flamous is the brand name. Seriously, you must try these chips - they have very little sodium and are made with all organic ingredients, but they taste salty and yummy and awesome. Also, they are loaded with iron!

  3. Once I had some hair stuff and the brand name was "Oganic". Sneaky, right? It smelled like honey and looked like something totally natural but o-ganic? really? Flamous, o-ganic, high-iron chips :->