Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tabbouli Salad & Pitas

When my daughter arrived home from college on Sunday evening, she was ready for anything that was a break from dorm food. The perfect light meal was tabbouli (or tabbouleh) salad with pitas, feta cheese and Greek olives. This is a fairly quick meal, and super-good for you.

I buy whole-wheat pitas, warm them in the oven at 300 for a few minutes, cut them in half, then carefully open the "pocket" with a sharp knife.

Tabbouli Salad
Crumbled Feta
Kalamata Olives (pitted and halved lengthwise)

Tabbouli Salad
(serves 4)
3/4 c. bulgur wheat (I buy Arrowhead Mills organic)
1 c. hot water
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 c. or more fresh parsley, minced
1 bunch scallions, trimmed, rinsed, and sliced thinly (all of the white plus 1" of the green part)
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
a generous pinch of salt and freshly-ground pepper

Place the wheat and water in medium bowl, stir once, cover with plastic wrap or a lid and let sit for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prep all remaining ingredients. Remove the cover from the wheat, stir it, and, holding the bowl over the sink, carefully drain off any excess liquid. Add all remaining ingredients, and mix thoroughly.

Folks have many preferences for additional ingredients - mint and cucumber are typical. Some add garlic, but I prefer not to. I prefer this simple version for its clean, earthy flavors.

Serve with pitas, crumbled feta cheese, and olives.

This is a quick, easy light meal. Or you can add kebabs (chicken, lamb, or beef) to make it more substantial. I also sometimes make a yogurt-cucumber-garlic sauce with it. Buy good-quality plain (unsweetened) yogurt. Peel, seed and finely-dice a cucumber. Mince, then mash a clove of garlic (or press it through a garlic press). Mix together with a little salt. Add a bit of dried, ground cumin if you like.

Even with the extras, it can all be done in about 45 minutes, the time it takes the bulgur wheat to hydrate. The Tabbouli keeps very well in the fridge for a few days.

Most of the work on this meal is chopping and mincing. Use it as an opportunity to work on your knife skills.

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