Saturday, September 04, 2010

Summer food

I'll bet most people are like me and have some recipes that they only make in the summer and some they only make in the winter and quite a few that are year-round favorites. We like chili, especially my mother's recipe, but we only eat it in the fall and winter. An extra crisp fall day is usually when I think about making a pot of chili and that first pot of the season tastes soooo good! Likewise, there are summer recipes—mostly certain salads—that are only made during warm weather. Tabbouli is one.

We love it. It is so flavorful and refreshing on a warm day and goes wonderfully with grilled salmon, steak or chicken. I just made a batch for this evening. It needs to be made early and put in the fridge for several hours to let the flavors blend. We are grilling steaks and baking potatoes to go with it.

That's my recipe on that gross looking index card. It was cut from the back of a box of Ala bulgar in the early '80s. There are a lot of tabbouli recipes around, but in my opinion, this is the best! The odd thing is that if you buy a box of Ala bulgar these days it has a different recipe on the box. I've tried the new recipe—not as good as the old one. Nowadays I don't even use the Ala brand bulger. I like Bob's Red Mill brand better. It is a little firmer and tastes a little nuttier to me. Besides, Bob's Red Mill is a local business, is a fun place to visit and Bob seems like such a great guy. In honor of his 81st birthday this year, he gave the business to his employees. But I digress. Here's the recipe:

•     1 C bulgar, uncooked
•     2 C boilng water
•     ½ C vegetable oil
•     ½ C lemon juice
•     2 teaspoons salt
•     1 teaspoon pepper
•     ½  cup parsley, chopped
•     3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or 2 teaspoons dry mint, crumbled
•     1 bunch green onions & tops, finely chopped
•     2 tomatoes, diced

Pour boiling water over bulgar in a bowl. Let stand 1 hour. Drain well and return to bowl. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Chill at least 2 hours. Serves 4-6  

I make it pretty much exactly as the recipe states, though I think I usually use more parsley than that, and, as you can see above, I am keeping the onions separate today. My daughter doesn't much like raw onions, so the rest of us will garnish our servings with the onion and she can eat hers onion-free. The parsley and fresh mint are from our garden. We usually have fresh tomatoes in the summer, but not yet this year. You can use dry mint if you don't have fresh, but it is not as good. We always like to have mint growing somewhere in the yard for mint juleps and tabbouli. It is easy to grow and can grow almost anywhere.

Labor Day weekend. I guess this is the official end to summer, but I'm hoping for a warm fall. We had such a late spring and cool summer. Maybe we can squeeze in a few more outdoor dinners and I can use up my package of bulgar on more tabbouli before chili season arrives.


  1. I was remembering a friend making tabbouli in Florida when we used to vacation with a huge group of people. She and her Lebanese husband also made the most delicious hummus. I loved all the food. Thank you for the recipe. Elaine and Eli used several bunches of parsley in their recipe but perhaps it was just a huge portion.

    I'm going to remind you to share the chili recipe when it gets cold.

  2. You know, I was just thinking it was getting closer to beef stew time, and my mouth was watering in anticipation! I use a recipe from Sunset - it has chipotle pepper in it, and you garnish it with bleu cheese and chives. YUM!

    I'm sad to see summer go, but fall things like beef stew, pumpkin bread, and apple pie make it better.

  3. My son loves tabbouli. He would eat it on everything if he could :-)

  4. Love tabbouli, but tonight we had chilli and cornbread.

  5. My massage therapist, who used to be a chef, suggested a variation on tabbouli: use quinoa instead of the bulgar wheat.

  6. Barbara, I have made it with quinoa--equally good.

  7. Our parsley is going beserk so we're eating lots of tabbouli. Our neighbour has lots of mint so we raid their garden! When I'm cutting the mint, the smell always reminds me of the [Methodist] mint juleps Mum used to make for festive occasions when I was young.

  8. I'm with you on wishing for more summer, but this afternoon and evening: not so promising.

    I think I started making tabouli in Berkeley in the '70s. Haven't made it at all this year, but now I'm inspired. All we need is one more day that feels at least a little bit like summer.