We're big fans of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern parsley salad tabbouleh. We frequently make it ourselves - see our recipe here. We had a bunch of fragrant parsley last week, a gift from our aunt's garden, and we pondered a batch. But it's getting a little chilly for cold salads; we wanted something warm, and we still had all this locally-made goat feta.
So we invented something new: reverse tabbouleh!
At least, we like to think it's new; it's probably as old as the hills. Something so simple must have been made a thousand times over, right? Well, it was new to us, and it was delicious.
Why is this reverse tabbouleh? Tabbouleh, for all you tabbouleh purists out there, is a very parsley-intensive dish. It should NOT be a grain salad with parsley attached. No - it's a parsley salad (so sweet, juicy, fragrant) with bits of softened bulgur wheat to plump it up and round it out.
Our version here is mostly wheat, softened in water then pan-fried. Tabbouleh is usually served cold; this dish is hot.
Thus - reverse tabbouleh!
This is super easy; we just plumped up a great deal of bulgur wheat (found in your bulk food section for literally pennies) and left it in the fridge overnight with a little chopped parsley, fresh cucumber chunks, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Then we dumped it in a pan the next day, fried it up, and added chunks of salty goat feta and some tomatoes.
Voilá - the vegetables did not overwhelm the hot wheat; instead they made it a juicy, savory, salty little grain dish suitable for vegetarians (and vegans, hold the cheese) alike.
And one more note: using just a bit of that incredibly good local feta cheese made this dish really wonderful. It soaked all through, and the cheese got warm and tender. Just one more good way to use it...
Warm Wheat Salad - Reverse Tabbouleh
serves two as a main dish or four as a side
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups boiling water
1/2 red onion
3 cloves garlic
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/4 cup mint leaves
Juice of two lemons - about 1/2 cup
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 large tomato, seeded and minced fine
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Put the bulgur wheat in a large bowl. Pour the boiling water over it and cover.
Finely chop the onion, garlic, cucumber, parsley and mint, discarding any large stems and stalks. Juice the lemons and add their juice to the wheat, along with the chopped vegetables and herbs, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Cover and return to the fridge for at least an hour - ideally overnight.
Peel, seed, and mince the tomato. Heat a little olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the wheat mixture until hot and steaming. Add and feta and cook just until hot. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve immediately, with the tomato sprinkled on top of each serving.
(Image: Faith Durand)