Signature Dish of Leila

Tabbouli

Or Tabbouleh or Tabouli or Tabbooli or infinite variations thereof. Just don't add carrots and chickpeas and call it Tabbouli! An approximation of what I do. When assembling the salad, tip a small bit into your palm with the mixing spoon, then pop into your mouth. Slightly more sanitary. Taste, taste, taste!

Note: You may make this ahead of time for several hours or overnight, but do not add salt or olive oil until just before serving.

1 cup FINE GRIND bulghur wheat (med. grind works okay - different texture. Don't use the coarse)
4 bunches parsley (I prefer flat leaf texture but curly is fine)
3 bunches green onion (your taste)
Tomatoes. I don't know how many. Several pounds.
Fresh mint. I used a half bunch from the store. 10 or 12 stalks at least
4 to 6 lemons (to taste!)
Olive oil
Salt
Cucumbers (optional)
Romaine lettuce leaves (garnish & scoopers, optional)
Fresh grape leaves (scoopers - optional)

Soak the bulghur wheat in at least three times its volume of cold water. Fine grind only needs a half hour of soaking. Medium grind needs longer. Bulghur wheat has already been parboiled before cracking or grinding, so it doesn't need further cooking to b e edible in tabbouli. Chop the parsley leaves, green onions, mint, tomatoes and cucumbers. Some Lebanese add white onion but I find the taste too harsh. Chop the parsley quite fine, using a knife. I tried a food processor, just to question my upbringing, and found that it mak es parsley too fine and gloppy. TJ says dry the parsley thoroughly by blotting it all with paper towels, which I did, but then it becomes just as much work as chopping by hand. The tomatoes must be cut up into quite small dice. Less than half an inch I'd say.

Mix veggies and bulghur together. Douse with strained lemon juice. If you are not ready to serve immediately, then cover and hold in a cool place. Do NOT add salt and olive oil until immediately before serving.

You may garnish with more diced tomatoes and/or diced cucumber, and stick lettuce or grape leaves around the sides of the bowl. Traditionally Lebanese like to use leaves to scoop up the salad, popping leaf and salad into mouth.

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