Awhile back, my mother gave me a collection of my grandmother’s recipes that she had compiled for me, the assortment of papers, stationery, and notecards with recipes written onto them into photo album slots.
This is where I retrieved my recipe for tabbouleh, always one of my favorite dishes that my grandmother often made. Often my grandmother or my mother would make a large batch of tabbouleh which would serve as an easy lunch or dinner accompaniment for days. Surprisingly, I hadn’t made it on my own yet and decided to bring it as a side dish to a barbecue we went to at a friends’ house this past weekend.
Tabbouleh packs a unique and strong flavor, thanks to the parsley and green onion, which are staples in my grandmother’s salad making method. This is also one of the recipes in which she writes “3 large kitchen cooking spoons of lemon juice.” She’s known for writing vague instructions like this, where I’ve often called my mother out of panic and frustration to ask her how big the “large kitchen spoons” were that my grandmother used! Just for clarification, my grandmother is still living but not in the best of health and her memory often fails her, so it is not easy to simply pick up the phone and call her for clarification.
Anyway, so when I made this recipe for tabbouleh, I grabbed a large kitchen serving spoon and followed her measurements for the lemon juice and olive oil, and it came out…perfectly. Apparently she knew exactly what she was doing, because when I measured the amount of liquid in the large cooking spoon measurement method, it comes out to 1/3 cup (2 spoons) and ½ cup (3 spoons) precisely. I did not have to add to taste at all. Which usually never happens for me, especially when working with these types of ingredients. Usually, it’s more like, add the ingredients, taste, add more salt, taste again, and it needs more lemon juice, etc. For as vague as her measurements are, she is precise.
This one’s for you, Mimi.
- 2 cups bulghur wheat
- 2 bunches parsley
- 3-4 tomatoes (I used 4 vine tomatoes), diced
- 1 bunch green onions, diced
- 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Pepper and allspice to taste (allspice is optional but my grandmother uses it in almost all of her recipes, so I included a sprinkling)
Rinse bulghur in cold water 3-4 times, then let rest in large bowl for at least a half hour. I used a fine mesh strainer for the bulghur, then set aside in a bowl.
Chop parsley in a food processor, or chop very finely by hand, removing stems.
Add parsley, tomatoes, green onions, and cucumber to bulghur wheat. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and allspice. Mix together and taste test-add more of the spices to taste. Serve!
This makes a huge bowl of tabbouleh, perfect for large group or for several meals. An added benefit is that it tastes better and better as it sits.