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The Vegetarian

Bulgur Essential to Tabbouleh Salad

July 16, 1987|DIANA SHAW | Shaw is free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

No one in my second-grade class got a bigger kick out of studying the Pilgrims than Mary Putnam, who enjoyed star treatment the whole time because her ancestors (supposedly) came over on the Mayflower. I have also shared classrooms with self-proclaimed descendants of signers of the Declaration of Independence, Civil War heroes, and the first manufacturer of Listerine. In context, my claim to fame might seem kind of desperate. But at least it's genuine: My great-grandfather, a Persian-Armenian immigrant, was American's first commercial importer of bulgur wheat.

Bulgur is a coarse and hearty grain, which can be cooked in milk and served as hot cereal, or boiled in stock for an alternative to rice. But bulgur is best known as the essential ingredient in the salad tabbouleh. There is no fixed formula for tabbouleh , and when cheese, nuts or legumes are in the mix, it's a nourishing main course.

GAZPACHO TABBOULEH

1 cup boiling water

1 cup bulgur wheat

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 sweet yellow pepper, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size

2 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1/4 cup parsley, minced

2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced

3/4 cup cooked kidney or garbanzo beans, optional

Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing

Salt, freshly ground pepper

Pour boiling water over bulgur in medium-size bowl and let stand 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large salad bowl, combine red pepper, green pepper, yellow pepper, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, celery, carrots, parsley, basil, oregano and beans. Add soaked bulgur and mix well.

Add vinaigrette and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing

Juice of 1 large lemon

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup fruity olive oil

1 large clove garlic, grated

Stir together lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and garlic.

FETA TABBOULEH

1 cup boiling water

1 cup bulgur wheat

8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

1/4 cup raisins

Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing

Pour boiling water over bulgur in medium-size bowl. Let stand 30 minutes. Add feta cheese, walnuts and raisins. Stir well.

Add dressing (see preceding recipe) and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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