Friday, June 28, 2013

Tabouli

This is an excellent meal for your hot Arkansas summer day, especially if you have a garden that is putting out a lot of tomatoes and parsley and cucumbers. (We don't have cucumbers yet, but the tomatoes are already out of control.) If you have to buy the vegetables, it can get pricey, so it's not really a poverty dish.  But it is delicious.

Ingredients:


  • 2 cups of bulgur wheat. If you buy this in a grocery, look for it under Tabouli mix in the Ethnic aisle. It's cheaper if you buy it at your health food or organic grocery store, or at your Middle Eastern store, though, if you're lucky enough to have one in your town
  • Half a cup of olive oil.  Buy the good kind.  It costs a little more, but this is one place where quality matters.
  • Two or three lemons
  • Some parsley.  Lots if you love parsley, less if you're meh about parsley.
  • A nice cucumber
  • Tomatoes.  Lots if you love them, fewer if you're meh
  • Salt, pepper, other spices.  Some people put in mint and garlic.  I don't like mint and sometimes I feel like garlic and other times I do not. If you use mint, get the fresh kind and mince it well.  Use about a quarter cup.

Put your 2 cups of bulgur wheat in a large glass or ceramic bowl.  Pour two cups of boiling water over the cereal and stir well.  Cover with a clean dishcloth and let sit for about 30 minutes.  (You can leave it longer and nothing terrible will happen, I promise!)

After 30 minutes, stir well.  Add the zest from the lemons, and then squeeze out their juice.  Whisk together the juice of the lemons and the half cup of olive oil, and stir all this, along with the lemon zest, into the bulgur grains. 

While the cereal and the olive oil get to know each other, mince your parsley pretty fine.  Mix that in with the wheat. Let that sit while you deal with the cucumber.

Now here's where it's up to you.  I like my cucumbers skinned.  You can feel free to leave the rind on, though.  What I do here is a peel the suckers, and then quarter them.  You do need to do the next step, whichever way you go, which is to scrape out all those bitter nasty seeds. 

Once you've quartered and seeded your cucumber, cut it up into pretty small pieces, about the size of red beans, and then stir them into the cereal.  

Next cut up your tomatoes.  Any sort of tomatoes are fine here, by the way.  You do need to seed them, though, just like with the cucumber. And they should be very ripe. Then cut them into the same small pieces, and stir them in.

Add your spices -- salt, pepper, and garlic, for me, though some people do add mint, and others also add a little honey and ginger.  About a quarter cup of red wine vinegar is also good at this point. Go wild!

Stir it all really good, cover with the dish cloth, and put in the fridge for about an hour.  Longer if you need to, that's fine.  In fact, if you make it today and eat it tomorrow it's even better, but in that case probably transfer it to some sort of dish with a lid that seals tight.

Serve chilled well with warmed pita bread and icy, icy beer.  Or tea, if that's what you like.



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