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One Lebanese salad, hold the water

By Bonnie S. Benwick

Grace Weissman does it, and so does the Barefoot Contessa: Their tabbouleh recipes call for soaking the bulgur in water.

But Samira Meghdessian would never do so. After reading about how the Takoma Park sixth-grader makes tabbouleh, the Vienna resident sent her recipe to the Food section along with a nice note.

"I'm Lebanese, and no one I know who is Lebanese would use water," she told me last week by phone. "What we're used to is lots of parsley and a very lemony flavor."

Meghdessian mixes the bulgur directly with olive oil, then flavors it with lemon juice and scallions. Her version is best made and served the same day, to keep the parsley crunchy.

-- Bonnie S. Benwick

Samira's Tabbouleh

6 servings

1/2 cup fine bulgur
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 or 2 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
2 to 3 scallions, light and white-green parts, finely chopped
Leaves from 2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (preferably by hand; food processors can leave the parsley too moist)
Leaves from 1 bunch mint
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into small dice
Freshly ground black pepper
Lettuce or cabbage leaves, for serving (optional)

Place the bulgur in a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice (to taste), oil and scallions (to taste); stir to incorporate. Let stand for at least 30 minutes so the bulgur absorbs all the flavors; it should have a lemony taste.

Shortly before serving, stir in the parsley, mint and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste; add lemon juice as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve, scoop the salad into lettuce or cabbage leaves, if desired, or use them as a garnish.

Per serving: 220 calories, 3 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 70 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

By Bonnie S. Benwick  | November 1, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Recipes  | Tags:  Bonnie S. Benwick, recipes  
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I've never made tabbouleh, so take this for what it's worth. Is there a chance "fine bulgur" used above is different than the bulgur the other recipes are using? Ina and Grace are using 1.5-2:1 ratios of water to bulgur (although Grace calls hers "fine cracked wheat"). How can the above recipe only have 1/2c of oil and 1-2 oz of lemon juice and be the same dish as the other two?

Posted by: DrBeaker | November 2, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

The Barefoot Contessa, along with the other Food Network shows, are best watched for entertainment value only. The recipes are often bland and underwhelming, IF they work at all.

Posted by: CAC2 | November 2, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

This doesn't even make sense. The point of the boiling water is to cook the wheat. Wouldn't it be awful crunchy if it was only mixed with a little oil and lemon juice? Weird.

Posted by: margaret6 | November 3, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

No, the bulgur's not crunchy at all. It is softened by the oil. The parsley makes the salad crunchy.

Posted by: benwickb | November 5, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

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