Tabbouleh is not original or unique to Iranian cuisine. It is prevalent throughout the cuisines of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. Nevertheless, it is such a national favorite and preferred side dish in Iran, we are including it here. Tabbouleh is a marvelously complex combination of flavors and textures. It features fresh flat leaf parsley, cracked bulgar, tomatoes, cucumbers, and citrus zest and herbs. A cold salad that makes a perfect accompaniment to the hot main courses of Iranian cuisine.
- 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup scallion-infused olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped fine
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup cracked bulgar
- 1 small or 1/2 of a large red onion, peeled and chopped fine (Note: if raw red onion is too strong a taste for you, you can use yellow onion instead. But red onion is the traditional choice)
- 5 to 6 oz. flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
- 5 to 6 oz. cucumbers, peeled and diced small
- 8 oz. tomatoes, cored and cubed small
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper and salt; then add and stir in the bulgar wheat. Allow this to sit and soak together for at least 30 minutes. If your bulgar is rather tough and coarse, you may need to let it sit for up to a couple hours – the bulgar should be soft and chewy.
- Wash and rinse the parsley thoroughly and then pat it dry using paper towels. If you have a salad spinner you can use that for faster, more efficient use in this step.
- Be sure to remove all the stems, then bunch the leaves up into a tight ball, place on a cutting board and chop the leaves finely. Chop in one direction, then bunch the ball back up and chop at 90 degrees to the last direction. Repeat this several times until your parsley is very finely and uniformly chopped.
- Place the parsley into a large mixing bowl, then add in the tomatoes, onions and cucumbers, followed by the soaked bulgar; toss and stir everything together well.
- Tabbouleh is absolutely best served nice and cold, so refrigerate the composed salad before serving. If you can, make it up a day ahead of serving time. The longer it sits in the fridge the better it will taste, as the complex bouquet of flavors will have that much more time to meld and blend together.
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