Saturday, July 28, 2012


We are just back from a whirlwind trip to Portland, Oregon, where we attended the New Chaucer Society conference, saw (and met!) some wonderful friends, pounded the pavement, took a couple of beautiful hikes, feasted on vegan food, and even - yes! - shopped at what I believe is the world's only vegan mini-mall (thus far). All that is fodder for another post when I'm less travel-weary, but since I seem to have been on a roll of blogging our summertime standbys, I hereby present my go-to, killer approach to yet another one.

Tabbouleh is one of those things that used to seem kind of exotic - found only at Middle Eastern restaurants and (as the image above suggests) hippie potlucks. Nowadays, it's readily obtained in any supermarket produce section, so it's easy to fall into the habit of buying it - and its similarly ubiquitous cousin, hummus - rather than making it from scratch. Well, I am here to tell you that doing so is a huge mistake, because real taboulleh kicks the ass of that insipid stuff in the plastic tub: once you've made your own, you will never again be satisfied with such pallid, watery impostors.

The magic secret  - which isn't magic, or even a secret, since I'm about to share it with you right here on the interwebs - is a lot of fresh herbs. Don't be alarmed by the quantity of green in this recipe, because A. it will wilt down quickly amid the lemon juice, veggies, and olive oil, and B. it will be delicious, so trust me. I also like to add chickpeas, which provides some extra protein and texture, while kicking it up from "salad" to one-dish meal in one fell swoop.

So head for the kitchen and get busy; if you make this right now, you can do whatever else you like with a hot summer day, in the virtuous knowledge that dinner is waiting, whenever you're ready to eat it. (NB tabbouleh is traditionally made with bulgur, but is also delicious - and gluten-free - with quinoa; just prepare the same quantity of the latter according to package directions, and proceed as follows.)

~ 1.5 cups bulgur
~ 3 cups vegetable broth
~ 6-8 scallions, thinly sliced
~ 2 large tomatoes, diced
~ 1 large cucumber, diced
~ 1 large carrot, grated
~ Juice of 2 lemons
~ 1/4 cup olive oil
~ 2 packed cups chopped, fresh parsley
~ 2 packed cups chopped, fresh mint
~ 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (optional)
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ A few grinds fresh black pepper

~ Bring the vegetable broth to a boil and add the bulgur; stir briefly, cover, and remove from heat. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.
~ In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, then add the cooked bulgur. (Pro tip: if you share my intolerance for uncooked oniony things, put the sliced scallions in a dish with a few tablespoons of water and microwave for two minutes to - as I like to think of it - "take the curse off." Drain and proceed.)
~ Mix everything until thoroughly combined, then cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (the longer the better) to allow the flavors to blend.
~ Serve cold or at room temperature.

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