If there is a constant at every Lebanese table, it is tabbouleh. As far as I can remember, it has been present at most of our meals. So, what can I say about this traditional and authentic Lebanese salad? It is amazing! It is the center of every Lebanese table; it is what we call “queen of the table”. It is deliciously fresh, vibrant, and healthy. Every Lebanese woman is taught how to make tabbouleh by her mother and grandmother from a very young age. There are many imitations or what one would call “tabbouleh inspired salads”, but there is only one authentic tabbouleh. You may choose to change the recipe; you may prefer to add or remove certain ingredients, please feel free to do so. However, if you do, then it becomes just a salad to the Lebanese, or a tabbouleh like salad, if you prefer. I am just sharing my insight of a most favorite Lebanese staple.
AUTHENTIC LEBANESE TABBOULEH
4 cups finely chopped flat leaf or Italian Parsley
1/2 cup finely chopped Mint
4 Roma Tomatoes
1 tablespoon Bulgur – very fine #1
1 small White Onion – finely diced
2 Lemons juiced
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Allspice
Start a few hours ahead or the day before by washing the flat leaf parsley, mint, and tomatoes. The parsley and mint need time to completely dry … or you can use a salad spinner to dry them, if you choose to wash them the same day.
Finely chop the parsley and the mint and place them in a large bowl. Be careful not to “over chop” the mint, as it can become bitter. Finely dice the onion; after which, sprinkle the salt and allspice on the diced onion. You may either mix it with your hands (like my mother taught me), or you can use your knife to chop the onion a little more to incorporate the salt and allspice into it. Place the onion in the bowl. Finely dice the tomatoes and place in the bowl as well. Rinse your bulgur twice or so, and drain the water very well. Now, if you prefer a crunch to your bulgur, place in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. I, however, prefer a better flavor to it, so I soak it in the juice of half a lemon and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil for about 5 to 10 minutes.
*Please note that Lemons are used widely and excessively on everything in Lebanon. The amount of lemon juice in this recipe (as I use large lemons) might be too much for some and not enough for others; please adjust to your liking by using the juice of one lemon first, then add more if you so desire.
Once the bulgur soaks up the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, place in the bowl with all the other ingredients, and add the rest of the lemon juice and olive oil. Stir or mix GENTLY. Taste it to see whether or not you need to add more salt, lemon juice, or olive oil. You may either serve right away, or place in the refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes, covered with plastic wrap. I prefer the latter, as it helps the flavors better meld together. When you take the tabbouleh out of the refrigerator, serve with lettuce or cabbage leaves. Enjoy!