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Mid-East Mashup: Tabbouleh 2.0

Ah, organizational skills. If mine were slightly better, this is what I would have taken to the Pride bar-be-que I went to on Saturday. But no, not quite that together. Not that anyone complained, mind you, as I showed up instead with one of WhiskedDC‘s super tasty strawberry-rhubarb pies–which got snarfled up pretty much instantaneously. Good stuff. Also good, however, is this verdant, lemony tabbouleh-esque salad… particularly now that the summer has definitively arrived in D.C., crushing everyone under its hot, sweaty fist.

Although you’d not know it based on many of the tabboulehs  available in this country, it’s MEANT to be a green salad of parsley with a little bit of bulghur mixed in–not a tan salad of bulghur with a little bit of parsley mixed in. Of course, there are challenges to making a salad that’s mostly parsley. While I love its bright, grassy flavor, most of the parsley I can get my hands on is huge and tough. And, when tossed with its super lemony dressing, the parsley manages to go all wilty, yet remain tough. Tiresome.

Since I’m not about to start growing my own tender young parsley for salads–I’d need several more balconies–I thought about other greens that might also play well with the parsley I was committed to keeping for the sake of flavor (and tradition). Spinach? Nope. Too delicate. It’d just wilt down into snotty green hankies. Ech. But kale? That could work. It’s rugged enough to stand up to the dressing, but once cooked, isn’t as throat-ticklingly tough. And chic peas? Also not traditional, but a nice addition that adds some creamy heft and enhances the veggie-friendliness of your menu.

Tabbouleh 2.0
Yield: ~8 side servings

1/2 c fine bulghur wheat
1 c boiling water
3 lemons
1 clove garlic
4 green onions
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 bunches curly kale
5 medium tomatoes
1 English cucumber
2 14oz cans chic peas
3 tbs minced fresh dill (or 2 tbs dry)

In a small bowl, combine the bulghur wheat and the boiling water. Set aside.

Zest the lemons, then juice them. Grate the garlic to a pulp on a ceramic ginger grater (or mince really fine). Combine the lemon juice, zest, and garlic in a small bowl. Trim the green onions and slice thinly. Set the green tops aside and add the white parts to the lemon juice mixture along with the salt and pepper, dried dill (if using), and the olive oil. Don’t whisk it all together, just the the oil float on top.

Cut the kale from its stems and roughly chop the green leaves. Discard the stems. Set a large bowl of cold water in the sink and rinse the leaves in a big bowl of cold water, swishing it around energetically to remove any grit or dirt. Squeeze out most of the water and set aside.

In a large fry or saute pan, warm the oil over high heat. Once it shimmers, add the kale and saute over high heat till cooked through–wilted a bit and bright green–about 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the kale is cooking, rinse and stem the parsley, chopping it coarsely. Dice the tomato and cucumber. Rinse and drain the chic peas.

Combine the bulghur, green onion tops, cooked kale, tomato, cucumber, chic peas, and fresh dill (if using) in a large serving bowl. Pour the lemon mixture over and toss to coat thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve forth with virtue.

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