No dish is more quintessentially Middle-Eastern then Tabouleh. It’s the first dish that comes to my mind anytime anyone asks me “So what exactly is Middle-Eastern food?” It is also one of those dishes that makes your mouth water just thinking about it, in part, because it is so delicious, but also because it has a refreshing tartness from the lemon dressing that balances out the main ingredient of the dish, parsley. Yes, you read right, parsley makes up the green component of this very green salad. And while parsley may just be a regular old garnish to most, it is truly celebrated in this dish.
The remaining ingredients of Tabouleh are few and simple. However, it is the tedious process of separating a large quantity of parsley leaf from stem that makes it difficult to whip up quickly and often. So while it is an absolute fan favorite, it is not commonly present at the dinner table. Maybe that’s what makes it even more special. 😉
To give you an appreciation for just how much love can go into this dish. I once had the pleasure of being on the “parsley picking” team of four to prepare Tabouleh for a 100+ person party that my parents were hosting. To produce enough Tabolueh for a party that size, all four of us spent an hour separating about 20 bushels of parsley by hand. Maybe not something I would repeat often, but it was totally worth it to see the excitement on folks’ faces and the appreciation they had when the saw the gigantic bowl of Tabouleh there ready to be devoured.
That’s just the thing, Tabouleh is a labor of love. This is why its very hard to find good Tabouleh commercially. More often than not, you see much more grain then green because it’s easier (and cheaper) to make in mass quantities. But that is not true Tabouleh, my friends. If you want the real thing, try this recipe just once. You won’t go back to store bought, I promise you. Hope you enjoy this most favorite of favorites.
- 5.5 Cups Chopped Parsley (flat leaf or curly) (appx, 4 bushels of parsley)
- 2 tbsp chopped green onion (appx. 2 stalks of green onion)
- 3 cups chopped roma tomato (appx. 4 roma tomato)
- 1/3 cup bulghar or cracked wheat medium size
- 3/4 cup lemon juice (juice of appx. 4 lemons)
- 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- Chop the parsley:Separate stems from leaves. Discard stems. Rinse leaves thoroughly and dry so they are not more than slightly damp. Helpful Hint: salad spinner works well or laying out on a towel to dry for 15 – 20 minutes. Then, chop leaves finely (food processor works well).
- Chop tomatoes. Once chopped, place in a colander to drain excess liquid.
- Chop bottom half of onions finely. Discard top half
- In one bowl mix chopped parsley, tomato, onions, cracked wheat (dry), salt, EVOO, and lemon juice. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to overnight. This allows the dry grain to soften as it soaks up the liquid.
- Add more EVOO, salt, and/or lemon juice to your liking just before serving.