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Tabbouleh: Preparation and Recipe

You can make tabbouleh at home with this easy recipe

Tabbouleh, which has always been a popular dish in Arab countries, is a salad made of parsley, green onions, and bulghur wheat. It has gained popularity in the United States and shows up on many menus in mainstream restaurants as well as at deli counters in grocery stores.

Before you select just any bulghur wheat product, make sure it is labeled "#1." This is a small sized grain. Also, the experts warn against the boxed and bagged mixes as they may contain a blend of bulghur grain sizes, some of which may remain hard after soaking.

Also, do not be confused about cracked wheat and bulghur; these are two distinctly separate products. Bulghur is pre-cooked while cracked wheat is not.

Regardless of which ingredients you use, tabbouleh is all about a delicate balance of flavors. Many consider a ratio of 40% bulghur to 60% parsley and vegetables. You can experiment with your own balance, especially if you appreciate the nutty taste of bulghur.

You will also see contradictions in serving. Some say to serve immediately while other think that the flavors should incorporate for a few hours or overnight. Cooks will also argue over the correct proportion of tomatoes. There has long been a debate between Syrian and Lebanese cooks regarding cucumber. Lebanese chefs decry the use of cucumber, yet it is included in many tabboulleh recipes. Others may tell you that if you have a leftover cucumber, just chop it up finely and toss it in.

Serves 4

1 cup bulghur wheat
3 bunches parsley
2 Tablespoons fresh mint (or 2 Tablespoons dried)
1 bunch green onions
2 medium tomatoes
½ cup olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

-Add water to bulghur in a bowl and let sit for about an hour. Grains should double in size. Drain thoroughly and squeeze remaining water out of grains by hand.
-Wash and dry the parsley. Remove all stems and mince the remaining leaves.
-Finely chop tomatoes and green onions. Drain tomatoes.
-Add remaining ingredients and toss gently, but well.
-Add salt and pepper to taste.
-Refrigerate or serve immediately.

If you are making a larger batch, you can put the parsley in a food processor and gently mince it into tiny bits.

One last note: you'll see tabbouleh spelled several ways, including tabouli, tabouleh, taboli, and taboule. It may also be referred to as "parsley-wheat salad." You will also find a variety of spellings for bulghur (bulgar, bulgur, and in its common, native form: burghol).

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