Recipe type: Salads, Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 16 servings
Middle Eastern food has become mainstream in some areas of the country. For me, a favorite Mediterranean meal includes tabouli, hummus (a dip made of garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini (sesame seed butter), lemon juice, and spices), falafel (garbanzo bean fritters made with parsley, cilantro, and spices) and pita or pocket bread. When making salads, there is tremendous flexibility in proportions for all of the ingredients so that you can create the salad that appeals to your tastes. Some versions of this Middle Eastern salad are predominantly bulgur wheat, the cracked, steamed whole wheat grains that have been dried and are reconstituted with boiling water. I like to use fine bulgur, sometimes called #1, but other grinds work well although they will require longer soaking to soften. Other versions of the salad are rich in herbs and this is one of those, using a large quantity of mint and flat leaf Italian parsley to produce a more intensely flavored salad. This recipe is a starting point for you to modify and make your own. Sometimes this salad is our whole meal with the addition of garbanzo beans, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives. Some people like the addition of a pepper sauce such as Tabasco. When I make a large batch of salad (and the following recipe makes 4 generous entrée salads or 16 side salad portions) I do not add salt to the salad bowl unless I am sure that we won’t have leftovers. I do not want salt drawing the water out of the herbs, cucumber, and tomatoes and leaving the salad watery. For the same reason, I use the feta cheese and Kalamata olives as a garnish. If you use salty items like cheese, olives, capers or anchovies with your salad, you may want to limit the salt that you use to season the salad. This recipe comes together quickly and easily if you use a food processor. You can get similar results by chopping and dicing ingredients with a good knife, but it will take much longer.
  • 1 1/2 cups dry bulgur wheat
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 green onions, tops included
  • 1 large bunch fresh mint leaves (spearmint)
  • 2 large bunches fresh flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley)
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 pound of English or Persian cucumbers
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper sauce such as Tabasco (optional)
  • Garbanzo beans (optional)
  • Kalamata olives (optional)
  • Feta cheese (optional)
  1. Place bulgur wheat in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the wheat and mix to moisten all of the grains. Set aside to rehydrate the wheat while you work on the other ingredients. Slice the green onions and using the steel knife, pulse them in the food processor. Leave them in there as you pulse the first batch of herbs. Remove the spearmint leaves from their coarse stems. Cut the bottoms off the parsley bunches, discard and remove the leaves from the stems if the stems are very coarse. Pulse the herbs until they are finely chopped and transfer them to your salad bowl. Core and quarter the tomatoes and pulse until chopped and add to the salad bowl. Cut the cucumbers into large chunks and pulse until chopped and add them to the salad. If the wheat is softened and there is water remaining, drain the excess liquid. Pour the wheat into the salad bowl and add lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, black ground pepper, salt, and pepper sauce if you are using it. Mix, taste and adjust the seasoning. You can add more vinegar if you prefer your salad to be more acidic. Serve in bowls and garnish with desired condiments.