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Introduce yourself–if you haven’t already–to the most famous salad of the Middle East. You need bunches of crisp parsley, scallions, mint, tomatoes, virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice and cracked wheat, and you’re set!

Tabbouleh is synonymous with Lebanon; from there it spread throughout the Arabic world and seemingly the world over. To a Middle Easterner, Tabbouleh signifies a celebration of balmy summer days, leisurely outings, friendly gatherings. No special occasion is worth its name without the preparation of Tabbouleh!

175 mL 3/4 cup) burghul (cracked wheat) medium or fine
175 mL (3/4 cup) water
2 large bunches parsley (preferably flat leaf) crispy fresh
large bunch fresh mint or 3 tbs dried
4 scallions (green onions)
juice of 2 lemons
7 mL (1 1/2 tsp) salt
50 mL (1/4 cup) olive oil
2 ripe tomatoes

Place cracked wheat and water in a large bowl and set aside to soak for half an hour.

Meanwhile, stem off the parsley, mint and scallions and wash thoroughly under cold running water. Chop very fine.

Squeeze cracked wheat between the hands to remove excess water. Return to the bowl and add the greens. Add lemon juice, salt and olive oil, adjusting the amounts to your liking. Sometimes two or three tastings are called for until the right balance is achieved. Dice the tomatoes and add to the salad. Best served immediately or soon after.

Traditionally Tabbouleh is eaten by scooping it with pieces of lettuce or with very tender grape leaves – some even fancy scooping it up with torn pieces of crispy cabbage – or it may simply be eaten with a spoon.

If you wish to prepare the Tabbouleh a few hours before it is served, you may add the chopped greens to the dry burghul without soaking the burghul beforehand (the moisture in the greens will lend itself to the burghul and soften it). Refrigerate the mixture. Just before serving, mix in the tomatoes, add the dressing, and serve.

Makes 4 – 6 servings.