Since it snowed today, the first day of Spring, I decided it was still winter enough to post this. Anyway, tabbouleh sort of transcends seasons, though I think many of us think of tabbouleh as a summer salad. Its make-ahead qualities, no mayonnaise, and no real cooking involved, really do scream summer. But, why limit ourselves to this deliciousness only in the summer? This is the perfect autumnal and winter salad, too. In the fall and winter, I add dried fruits, nuts and I use cherry tomatoes, as they have better flavor this time of year. I have even been known to add petite diced, canned tomatoes undrained! They work and they work well. As for seasoning, toasted cumin is good, if you’re using the canned tomatoes, chiles (or chile flakes), celery, bell pepper, etc. I have added a can of well-drained kidney beans and simply used lime juice for the dressing.
For this iteration, which has a decidedly Middle Eastern slant, I used dried fruit, and whatever raw vegetables I happened to have in the crisper drawer. I used pomegranate molasses, as I love that flavor, along with rice vinegar, lemon juice and orange juice. I like the little hint of allspice and cinnamon. It’s unexpected and it’s just plain good!
- 2 cups bulgur, no. 2 or medium-sized, soaked for 1-2 hours
- Warm water to cover by about 1/4-inch
- 1/2 cup finely chopped kale (I prefer lacinato)
- 1/2 cup diced Persian cucumbers
- 1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cauliflower or broccoli (optional)
- 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pistachios, walnuts or pecans
- 1/3 cup dried pears, apricots, or apples, finely diced
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fennel fronds
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried bell pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (you’ll probably need more)
- 1/2 teaspoon roasted garlic granules or to taste
- 3-4 scallions, chopped
- 1 Clementine, washed well, rind grated and sections diced
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey or melted apricot preserves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (maybe just a tad more!)
- Large pinch of ground cinnamon
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or sesame oil (optional)
Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients; pour over the salad. Toss, taste and correct the seasoning. Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours or overnight. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.
NOTE: When freshly made, the salad should taste a bit sharp. The vegetables will “weep” moisture into the bulgur and this will dilute the dressing a bit; you might even need to add more dressing.
Winter Tabbouleh Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
Just barely cover the bulgur with the water. Let stand for an hour or two. A lovely Lebanese woman taught me how to make tabbouleh and she said that people put way too much water on it and you should use warm or cold water, never hot. She makes great tabbouleh, so when she talks, The Goddess listens.
This will totally absorb the water and be rather “fluffy”, not at all water-logged. It’s still dry enough so it will absorb some of the dressing and the liquid given off by the vegetables.
I dump the bulgur in a bowl, then dump the spices on top,
then the chunky stuff of choice. In this case I used a shredded carrot, cauliflower, Persian cucumber, scallions, Clementine zest and sections, dried cranberries and cherries, pistachio kernels and cherry tomatoes (chopped).
After you mix all the dressing ingredients together, you just pour it on, then toss and taste. You’ll note that I don’t use oil. If I do, it’s just 1 or 2 tablespoons…I don’t see the need and I think it keeps the salad from getting heavy.
Correct the salt and sharpness…you want it to be on the sharp side, cover the bowl, and let it sit to do its wonderfully, meldy thing. I forgot to add some snipped, dried pear, but that’s okay. There is enough goodness to go around. If you wish, you can crumble feta on top, when you serve it.
The next day, I added some chopped lacinato and red leaf kale, a good handful. I removed the ribs and just used the leaves.
Kale holds up exceptionally well in tabbouleh.
For a great lunch, lay cooked shrimp or shredded chicken on top of each serving of salad. Feel free to sprinkle with chopped, fresh cilantro, it you wish.