I didn’t like tabbouleh for a long time, but I don’t really like to think about that dark period in life. What was I thinking? It was before I had developed a real penchant for parsley, and I’m afraid the excessive levels of parsley in the version I tried just turned me off…I wasn’t ready for it. Nowadays, I really adore parsley, and tabbouleh with it: I began making Ina Garten’s recipe for Chicken with Tabbouleh a few summers ago, and became quite devoted to it. As in, I used to make it almost every other week to bring for lunches. I also talked it up so much that my parents are now equally devoted to it (it’s good, right, Mom?) I’ve mentioned before that I recently tried Heidi’s recipe for Spring Tabbouleh a few weeks ago, with great results, and have made it a few times since, but with a few tweaks.
I like Ina’s method of soaking the bulgur wheat in water with olive oil and lemon juice…the cracked wheat really soaks up the flavor. We had some gorgeous, fat purple asparagus at the farmer’s market this week (squee!), so I added some of those along with the green asparagus to the tabbouleh, along with some blanched snow peas, white beans, fava beans (just because I had some), and toasted walnuts. For herbs, I tried to keep things in season: parsley, chives, and mint.
Tabbouleh is a great lunch dish: the flavors just get better as they sit and meld and mingle over the week, and it’s not a food safety debacle waiting to happen if it goes through some travel time without a freezer pack. I served this yesterday for some friends that came over for lunch (inspired by a beautifully clear, crisp sunny morning — though fickle as the weather is here, it was raining, cold, and overcast with darkly threatening clouds by the time we ate.) That’s okay: it was still spring in our mouths!
2 cups bulgur wheat
3 cups boiling water
1/2 cup lemon juice (4 lemons)
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces and blanched for 1 minute in boiling salted water
1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas, cut into 1-inch pieces and blanched for 1 minute in boiling salted water
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed (such as cannellini or great northern)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
Put the bulgur in a large bowl, and pour the boiling water over it. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, and salt, and stir to combine. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it steam and absorb the liquid for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, blanch your asparagus and peas (I cook them for 1 minute in boiling salted water, then shock them in an ice-water bath), and toast your walnuts.
When the bulgur has absorbed all the liquid, stir in the asparagus, peas, toasted chopped walnuts, and the drained rinsed beans. Stir in the herbs until well combined, and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed — add more salt, freshly ground black pepper, or lemon juice according to your tastes.