‘Tab-oo-LAY’? ‘Tab-BOOL-lee’? Try this bulgur wheat salad which is a staple of Middle Eastern cooking. It’s vegan if you use plain water or vegetable stock.
There isn’t a single recipe for tabbouleh, but this is the one I love. Bulgur wheat is low on the glycaemic index – so, you’ll feel full sooner and for longer; with fruits, nuts and herbs you have a delicious and complete meal or side dish.
Serves: 4 – 6 as a main dish, 8 as accompaniment
- 500g bulgur wheat
- 500ml stock (or water)
- 500ml additional water
- 100g unsalted pistachio nuts
- 100g dried chopped apricots
- 100g dried chopped dates
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
- Several grindings of black or rainbow peppercorns
- 1/2 lemon, juice only
- 1 pomegranate, seeds only
- One large, heavy-bottomed pot with lid
- Put the bulgur wheat and stock (or water) into a pot, and bring to the boil. I like using my homemade chicken stock for this recipe, as it adds a certain heftiness to the finished dish; but do use plain water or vegetable stock if you require vegan/vegetarian.
- Once boiling, put the lid on, and reduce the heat (ideally, move the pot to the smallest ring on the lowest setting), and leave to simmer until the liquid is fully absorbed, about 12 minutes. After about 10 minutes of simmering, remove the lid and give it a good stir, and stir regularly for the next few minutes.
- Take the pot off the heat, and mix in the remaining ingredients up to the pomegranate. Sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds once you’ve transferred the tabbouleh to dishes to serve, or, to a sealed container for the fridge (this will keep for well over a week, properly chilled). Sprinkle over a few more chopped mint leaves prior to serving.
If you’re partial to coriander and/or parsley, chop up a handful of them as well, and throw into the mix.
But tabbouleh isn’t limited to anything specified here. Bulgur wheat is a flavour-absorber and quite literally anything you want to add is probably OK:
– Savoury? Add cooked-out onion, garlic, leek, or other alliums (or raw spring onion greens, chopped); with additions like chilli powder/flakes, garam masala, black olives, capers, hot mustard powder, most any herb, crumbled curry leaves, crushed fennel seeds, ground pepper – but not all at once! 🙂
– Sweeter? Keep to the dried fruit and nut theme, and consider chopped macadamia nuts or walnuts, with a dash of pomegranate syrup, runny honey, and/or spices like nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger.
The above version had yellow sweet pepper (capiscum), fresh green chilli, spring onions (green ends only), cinnamon, allspice, garlic, ginger, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, rainbow pepper, dried dates and dried mango. A fridge-and-cupboard cleaning exercise which resulted in a totally delicious meal.
Dealing with Pomegranate
Strictly speaking, what’s inside aren’t ‘seeds’, they’re called ‘arils‘. This online tutorial shows one way of getting the seeds out, but it’s a bit of a faff. I just slice them in half round the middle, then gently splay the halves apart, working the seeds from the membranes and pith with my fingers. It’s an excellently and weirdly calming thing to do whilst watching TV, but do keep kitchen paper at the ready as the juices have a tendency to fly about – and they have remarkable staining power. You have been warned.