Tabbouleh

6 Aug

I never really know what to make to go alongside BBQs – there are only so many buns one can eat before looking like they belong in Nathan’s hot dog eating contest (why people do this I have no idea – it looks absolutely horrific and makes my stomach churn at the mere thought of it), leaves alone don’t always cut the mustard, and as I don’t really like mayonnaise (and it needs to be done in advance to allow it time to cool anyway) potato salad isn’t really my first choice. The good news is that I have been recently become acquainted with tabbouleh. I’ll be honest, my first task was learning how to actually say ‘tabbouleh’ without someone correcting me or wondering whether I had made up my own bizarre Olympic sport (‘tah-boo-ley’, or ‘tah-boo-lee’ both appear to be perfectly acceptable options). According to Wiki, tabbouleh originated in ‘the mountains of Syria and Lebanon’ (sounds quite rustically romantic, doesn’t it?), and today it’s normally served up as a meze dish.

If you’ve been reading some of my other posts, it probably won’t come as any surprise when I tell you that it’s also super healthy; bulgar wheat is a complex carb (I’m beginning to think I rave on about these a little too much), which as you know from my previous posts is important for slow releasing energy. It’s also relatively high in protein when compared to other grains, and is high in fibre and many important vitamins and minerals. It also appears to be a fantastic source of folic acid, which is superduper important for women considering becoming pregnant (quick note from a medical perspective – many people appear to believe that folic acid is only important once a woman is already pregnant, but this is not the case. Women need to take in goodly amounts of folic acid before conception, and up to the twelfth week of pregnancy. If you want to know more check out this NHS article about vitamins and nutrition in pregnancy).

This recipe was super easy to make – the only cooking involved was simmering the bulgar wheat for about 30 minutes, and then it was just a matter of adding the rest of the ingredients and mixing it up – and it was really tasty. It was the perfect accompaniment to our Friday night BBQ, but was flavoursome enough to be enjoyed on its own when I had some of the left overs yesterday. Aaaaannnndddd……..it’s super cheap! Especially if you’ve got the herbs in your garden.

Recipe (as a main dish it serves 4 generously – add some grilled fish for a light but filling supper; as an accompaniment it served six of us with enough left over for lunch for two the next day)

  • 250g bulgar wheat
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, or four smaller ones
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of mint leaves, washed and finely chopped
  • Bunch of flatleaf parsley, washed and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon (to taste – don’t add it all at once!)
  • Pinch of salt

1. Cook up the bulgar wheat to the instructions on the packet. Mine required simmering for about half an hour, but it didn’t absorb all of the water. What I do if this happens is add more water to the pan, then pour it all into a sieve. By adding more water here it prevents the formation of a sludgey mess! Leave it for about ten minutes to absorb any excess water then fluff it up with a fork.

2. Pop the tomatoes into a bowl of near boiling water and prick the skin with the tip of a knife. When the skin splits, take them out of the water and leave to cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skins off and chop.

3. Add tomatoes, onion, parsley and mint to the bulgar wheat and mix. Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice and season to taste.

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