Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lebanese Layered Salad

This salad is a fairly standard recipe for tabbouleh - a Middle Eastern salad of bulgur, parsley, and tomatoes - but gets a visual pop from the layered ingredients.  It's worth buying a large glass bowl so you can present this dish the way it's meant to be seen, but in a pinch you can use any large bowl.  Right now is a great time to make tabbouleh, since the salad is bursting with the flavor of fresh herbs like parsley, dill, and mint.

  • 1 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 cups finely chopped red onion
  • 5 cups chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1.  Place the bulgur in a large (glass) bowl.  Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and the garlic, stirring with a whisk.  Drizzle the lemon juice mixture over the bulgur.

Note: don't be alarmed if the bulgur layer of the salad looks small at this point - the bulgur will expand as it soaks up the lemon juice mixture, and be full and tender once it's time to serve the salad.

2. Layer the red onion, tomato, parsley, mint, dill, cucumber, and red bell pepper evenly over the bulgur mixture, creating a stratified appearance.  Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and the black pepper.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving - you can even make this up to 48 hours ahead.  The longer the salad stands, the more the bulgur will soften. 

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 cup), Calories 148

Tasting Notes:
The great fresh herb flavor hit me first - mostly the dill and parsley.  Even though the added veggies like cucumber and tomato gave the salad a healthful boost, I found myself wanting a bit more of the standard tabbouleh flavor - that is bulgur, parsley and lemon juice.  But this was a nice fresh take on an old stand-by.  Since this salad feeds a crowd, keep it in mind for summer get-togethers.


Vegan Extra:
If you're still craving fresh herbs after this salad, another fun one to play with is oregano. Here are a few of my favorite uses for this Mediterranean herb.

Sprinkle fresh oregano on top just before serving a classic Greek salad of romaine, bell peppers, onion, olive, and crumbled vegan feta.

Prepare a store-bought vegan pizza, but top with fresh oregano just before serving for a homemade taste.

Stir into tomato sauce and serve over couscous.

Serve in a sauce over Gardein chicken, or rub directly onto the chicken before cooking.

Shake together an oregano vinaigrette to drizzle over any salad.

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