Tabbouleh with a Twist

Tabbouleh is an Arabic dish comprised of bulgur and fresh herbs and vegetables. It is served as part of a mezze (Middle Eastern appetizers) and can also accompany many dishes as a refreshing side dish. I decided to give the classic tabbouleh a small twist, by omitting the cucumber and combining it with a salad that my grandmother used to make to accompany heavy meals. The salad included roasted eggplant, parsley, tomatoes, lots of garlic and lemon juice. Combining these two dishes together worked very nicely. The dish has some bright flavors of garlic, lemon and salt, and I love it!

IMG_7912

Ingredients:
1 cup coarse bulgur
2 medium eggplants
2 large tomatoes, diced
6-8 small cloves garlic, minced
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
Juice from 1 large lemon (or 1 ½ if you are me)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt

Preparation:
Place the bulgur in a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water, about 3 inches above the bulgur, and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Drain to remove excess water.

IMG_7891

Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast under the broiler or on the grill. Poke the eggplant with a knife in several places to prevent it from exploding when on the grill. Let the skin get charred, then turn the eggplant 90 degrees and roast until charred. Repeat the process until the eggplants are well charred all around. Remove from the heat and leave on the side to cool.

IMG_7904

When cool enough to handle, scoop out the meat of the eggplants, using a spoon. Chop the meat on a cutting board. I also like to chop a little bit of the charred skin. It adds a great smokey flavor to the eggplant.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix together. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the bulgur to absorb the flavors.

IMG_7908

Bulgur Couscous

Bulgur is a delicious and nutritious grain. It is basically cracked wheat and you can find it in Middle eastern stores in two sizes, coarse and fine. The coarse bulgur has a nice bite to it. It is used in tabbouleh, salads, and side dishes. I call it couscous because it reminds me of couscous in its look, although it doesn’t taste at all like couscous. The fine bulgur is used for kibbes, stuffing, and porridge-like dishes.

This recipe is a very basic method to cook bulgur. Usually you don’t even need to cook it. Soaking it in hot water for half an hour gets it ready to be used in tabbouleh, for example. The added cooking process is only to let the bulgur soak in the flavors we want to add to it. Since it is already soaked in water, there is no need to add much water during cooking time. ¼ cup water for two cups of soaked bulgur is all it takes.

Ingredients:
2 cups coarse bulgur
4 tbs oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp coriander seeds
1tsp Aleppo pepper
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt
Black pepper
¼ cup water

Preparation:
Place the bulgur in a medium size bowl and cover with warm water, about 3 inches above the bulgur. Soak for half an hour. Drain the bulgur and discard of the remaining water.

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion until golden. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute.

Add the drained bulgur and sauté for 2 minutes.

Add the spices and ¼ cup of water. Stir well, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.