Mint and Parsley Salad

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Otherwise known as Tabbouleh, this is a favorite salad in the Middle East.

I spent my first two years of university in Beirut, Lebanon, before Tabbouleh was common over here. This mint and parsley salad was just one of the things that I loved about that city, which at the time was considered the “Pearl of the Middle East”.

I believe I make great tabblouleh, but my son-in-law’s father, who was born and raised in Damascus, challenges me on that. He has declared that he can tell which middle eastern country someone is from by their tabbouleh, and of course, he considers his own Syrian rendition the best. I disagree.  I love this style of tabbouleh that I first tasted at a little café on Rue Bliss soon after my arrival.

Lebanese Tabbouleh

  • 3/4 cup fine bulghur
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Submerge the parsley in a sink full of water. On removing it from the water, shake it well and then lay it on a tea towel to dry.

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When it is quite dry, which sometimes takes a bit of blotting, snip off the stems with scissors.

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And then chop it with a knife.  Don’t pulverize the parsley, just chop it enough that it is easy to mix with the other ingredients.

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Meanwhile soak the bulghur in a cup of water. (I get my bulghur from a middle eastern store, but Red Mill is readily available.) Bulghur, made from a variety of wheat grains that have been par-boiled and dried, adds a nutty flavor to the salad.

The mint needs to be chopped to a similar size as the parsley, and the tomatoes are chopped to approximately 1/2 inch cubes.  Let the tomatoes drain on paper towels before adding them to the parsley. Dice the onions.

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The salad dressing is easy.  Combine the lemon juice, oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the parsley, mint, onions, and tomatoes are together in a large bowl.

Squeeze the moisture from the bulghur by hand and throw it into the parsley. You’ll notice that there isn’t as much bulghar in this tabbouleh as you usually see in an American version. My mother used to say that the reason was because labor (to cut the parsley) is cheaper in Lebanon.

Pour approximately 1/2 of the dressing onto the salad and stir to mix well. Take a little taste to determine if more dressing is needed.

To serve, arrange romaine leaves on a platter. Spoon the parsley and mint salad on to the romaine leaves.

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Tabbouleh is healthy and delicious! And every bite reminds me of those lazy hazy days I passed in Beirut.

 

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