The Tradition of Tabbouleh

It's been my great honor to build friendships with and learn from Willow's global partners in the Middle East.  For me, 'Alive and Together' describe the beautiful way peoples of Jewish, Islamic, and Christian faiths, embodying their unique histories, cultures, an ethnicities, often live together through the hard work of seeing and honoring, including and transcending their (perceived) differences. 

 

'Alive and Together' not only describes the local peacemakers and peoples of the Holy Land, but also a vibrant fresh regional salad called Tabbouleh (Ta-boo-lay). Tabbouleh comes from the Arabic word tabil (“to spice”), and most believe it originated in the historic Middle Eastern region encompassing Lebanon, Palestine and modern-day Israel, along with Syria, Jordan, and southern Turkey. Like hummus and falafel, tabbouleh has deep roots in Middle Eastern culture, but lucky for us in the West, over time variants of traditional recipes can be found around the globe.

 

One of my memories from a global serving trip is getting to make tabbouleh at Zaatari refugee camp in the north of Jordan. Me, a group of girls from Willow, and a group of girls from the camp all stood around chopping and preparing ingredients. While not sharing a language, the common appearance of flushed cheeks and faces occupying grins told me that we all felt the same- Alive and Together.

 

I hope you can make this recipe at home with some people you love.

 

Here's one for your own Table! (Hint: Read the recipe all the way through before beginning to find additional tips, variations of flavor, alternatives for gluten sensitivity, and great ways to include even the littlest hands in meal preparation!) 

 

Tabbouleh

Serves 4-6 

Level of Difficulty: Easy 

Prep time: 30 mins

A fresh from the garden recipe! In season the herbs and vegetables are inexpensive and easy to find.

 

Ingredients:

- 1/4 cup fine bulgur ( see note below for gluten sensitive options)

- 3 medium firm ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced into small dice

- 2 small or 3/4 of a large english cucumber, seeded, and diced

- 2-3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

- 3 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves, pulled from stems, washed and dried, finely chopped or julienned

- 2 cups mint leaves, pulled from stems, washed and dried, finely chopped or julienned 

- 1Tbsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, more to taste

- Juice of 1 large lemon, or more to taste

- 2/3 cup (150ml) extra virgin olive oil

 

Special Notes:

- For gluten sensitivity substitute quinoa, millet or other wheat free alternative for bulgar, adjusting amount of olive oil/lemon juice and seasonings if needed. 

- For a heartier version, increase the amount of bulgar/quinoa, and/or add grilled sliced chicken breast to the top before serving. 

- Warming spices:

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (or Lebanese seven-spice mixture)

(The seasonings above vary from family to family or region to region, and many recipes use none at all.)

 

Directions:

1. Cook bulgur or gluten sensitive alternate according to package directions. Drain well.  Set aside to cool while prepping other ingredients, fluffing with a fork occasionally.

2. Rinse all produce and finely chop or dice as above. Washing and drying produce, or using a salad spinner, is a fun job for even the littlest helper, as are the remaining steps 3-5. Clean hands are the best mixing tools :)

3. To a large bowl add parsley, mint, tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, and bulgur. Toss to loosely combine. 

4. In a small bowl, stir or whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and warming spices if using. 

5) Add mixture to the large bowl with the vegetables and herbs and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. 

 

Many recipes suggest that making Tabbouleh a few hours ahead of time and allowing flavors to develop together in the refrigerator makes an even better batch!  

 

By Bretta Warren Kim – Bretta serves on Willow Global’s Advisory Board

 

Sources:

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/lebanese-tabbouleh-traditional-50129443

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012585-lebanese-tabbouleh

https://www.davidlebovitz.com/tabbouleh-recipe-anissa-helou/

https://tasteofpalestine.org/recipes/tabbouleh-salad-nazareth

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/recipe/tabbouleh/

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