Days are getting warmer and everything is looking brighter. Creatures that were in a death like dormancy have stirred into motion. Birds are busy with mating calls and building nests. The land around is waking up into vibrant greens, drenched in April showers. I wanted a big serving of green on my plate to start the season.
Tabouleh is a Middle Eastern salad mainly associated with countries like Egypt and Lebanon. It is a very popular herbal salad with vegetables and a touch of spices. I had this at a Lebanese restaurant and as it has familiar ingredients, I decided to try it at home. The two most important things used are ripe tomatoes and tender cucumbers. Fresh vegetables impart their juicy tenderness and a delicate crunch.
In Arabian countries it is served as a side dish or as mezze, or appetizers. Mezze is selection of small dishes served at the beginning of all large scale meals.
It is a fresh salad of garden cucumbers, tomatoes, and sweet onion flavored generously with parsley. Bulgar wheat adds more substance to this salad. A dressing of lemon and olive oil completes the mix of flavours. It is really easy to prepare.
Parsley is the main herb used in large quantity and it shines through this recipe. I used to think of parsley as an inedible garnish that is on your plate to be discarded. For some reason I do not like parsley’s flavour. I know it is loaded with anti-oxidants and good to include in my food. In this dish, it becomes likable because of the magical transformation brought out by the olive oil dressing.
Traditionally, a small quantity of Bulgar wheat is added to this salad to enhance its taste. A small quantity of grain provides the necessary starch too. I gave it a gentle twist by adding multi-grains. Adding cooked red quinoa, barley, millet and amaranth seeds will surely increase its nutritional value.
- 2 tbsp barley
- 1 tbsp red quinoa
- 1 tbsp millet
- 1 tbsp amaranth seeds
- 1 ripe tomato
- half a cucumber
- half green pepper chopped
- 1/2 red onion chopped
- a big bunch of fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- Cook barley in water until it is half done (about 10 minutes).
- Add red quinoa, millet and amaranth seeds and cook well.
- Drain the excess water from cooked grains.
- Cool it in a bowl and fluff grains with a fork.
- Dice tomato, cucumber, onion and green pepper and add to the bowl of grains.
- Finely chop parsley and toss with the other ingredients.
- Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper.
- Drizzle this dressing over the salad.
- Chill in the refrigerator and toss once again before serving.
This salad can be easily assembled anytime as all the ingredients are available year round. So enjoy a kick of fibrous greens from this salad. Come Summer, I will be eating a lot of it!