After my husband had become compelled to begin following a gluten-free diet, we spent a while mourning the food that he would avoid. He rolled off a list of the things he wouldn’t be eating, including freekeh, I sighed at the thought of the large bag of it stacked in my cupboard. We planned the following day’s meals in advance. I felt a sudden panic when I remembered my parents were due to arrive in a few days: no more tabbouleh! This was, of course, a big problem.
My American partner has an undoubted likening for tabbouleh, who doesn’t? The quintessential Middle Eastern salad of parsley and bulgur, ravished in olive oil and lemon, has quickly become and international sensational dish. It is a light and fresh dish, full of green and fragrant herbs and also a great side dish thanks to the bulgur. We enjoy cooking it up in the tons and serving it with chicken or grilled fish. Sometimes we just serve it was fresh bread and hummus for a quick filling snack.
So, as we mourned the thought of tabbouleh, like always my Palestinian mother came to visit and saved the day. She took great happiness in informing us that it’s possible to make tasty tabbouleh without bulgur, it can be replaced with rice.
I considered what she said for a few seconds, wondering if such a substitute would even taste half as good as the original thing. My mother insisted that she’d cooked it many times before, and it tasted just as good. Apparently, it’s just another traditional version of the original. It was worth a shot, so we quickly put some leftover rice in the mix and enjoyed an excellent serving of beautiful tabbouleh.
So, how was it you’re wondering? It was divine! My mother’s suggestion was a revelation. Fresh, delicious and tangy, everything tabbouleh should be. I also thought that the cuisine felt a little lighter on the stomach compared to the bulgur based recipe. So next time you want to tuck into tabbouleh, try the version below, you won’t be disappointed!
Ingredients (serves 6-8 people)
For the rice:
• 1 cup of basmati rice (uncooked), soaked and rinsed
• Olive oil (one tablespoon)
• Nearly two cups of water
For the salad:
• Two finely chopped medium tomatoes
• Four finely chopped scallions
• extra virgin olive oil (half a cup)
• Two bunches of finely mixed parsley
• Half an English cucumber or 2 small cucumbers
• Three lemons, squeezed
- Before cooking, the rice should be soaked for at least 30 minutes (maximum soaking time is 8 hours). Rinse the rice until the water runs clear and drains thoroughly. If you don’t have time for this step, then cook for an extra 15-20 minutes.
- First, in a small saucepan, pour the drained rice and water. Season the ingredients with olive oil and salt for taste.
- Turn the hob on to a medium-high heat and bring the rice to a boil. Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the temperature to a very low heat. Allow it to cook for 10-12 minutes so that the rice is tender and the water has evaporated.
- With the pot still covered, allow the rice to set for around 10 minutes and then fluff it with a fork. Refrigerate the rice until it has cooled down.
- Wash and then dry the vegetables thoroughly.
- Using a sharp knife, chop the parsley into beautiful pieces, removing as many of the stems as you can and place the ingredients into a large dish.
- Dice the tomatoes, scallions, cucumbers and blend into the parsley.
- Take the cooled rice from the fridge and ensure that the grains are separated and look fluffy. Briefly, stir the rice again and then add the rice to the rest of the ingredients in the big bowl.
- Dress the salad using lemon juice and olive oil.
There you have it, some tasty tabbouleh!
Author: Jessica Moore from mideats.com