Vegetarianism isn’t what it used to be. Being what it was, this tabbouleh inspired bulgur wheat salad would’ve been most welcome. In the early 90’s my husband and I decided to embrace this new way of eating. We hardly considered that there’d be social challenges involved in following a vegetarian diet. Dinner invitations became scarce, as did the number of guests accepting our invitations. To be honest, I now see how just roast just butternut salad wouldn’t appeal to most South African meat eaters!
Back in the 90’s vegetarian options in most restaurant were predictable – creamed spinach, baked potato with sour cream and sweet pumpkin. Thankfully this has changed and a positive shift has seen vegetables elevated to main stream eating. Vegetables are being prepared innovative and interesting ways. Whether you’re trying to reduce your red meat consumption or wanting to make cleaner choices, this salad is such a good place to start.
I realize that not everyone gets excited when they hear the word salad, but this bowl of goodness is quite substantial and satisfying. To serve as a main, replace the feta with peppered goat’s cheese and a generous handful of seeds and nuts. If you’re not quite ready to pass up on the meat, it will do nicely alongside roast lamb shawarma or barbecue chicken kebabs.
An authentic Palestinian tabbouleh is all about the parsley and plenty of it. Westernized versions are slightly more relaxed when it comes to the ratio of bulgur to parsley, although a Lebanese tabbouleh has the least amount of bulgur. Using the basic flavours of this Middle Eastern classic, I’ve added plenty fresh ingredients. In addition to the parsley, I’ve included mint and rocket which lends a bright peppery taste to this salad.
A tabbouleh inspired bulgur wheat salad
For the salad
- 125ml (1/2 cup) bulgur wheat
- 160ml boiling hot vegetable stock
- 200g rosa tomatoes, halved
- 1 mediterranean cucumber
- half a red and yellow pepper, deseeded
- 200g chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 80g feta, cubed
- a large bunch flat leaf parsley, stalks discarded
- a handful of each, mint and rocket
For the dressing
- 45ml olive oil
- 30ml lemon juice
- zest of half a lemon
- a generous pinch of castor sugar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Place the bulgur wheat in a heatproof bowl and pour over the stock. The liquid level should just cover the wheat. Cover over with cling film and set aside for at least 10 minutes to allow the wheat to rehydrate. When all the stock has been absorbed, fluff the bulgur with a fork to separate the grains.
- Quarter the cucumber and deseed. Cut the quarters in half again and then into fine dice. Chop the peppers into fine dice. Now, take all three herbs and bundle them up together. Chop into fine shreds and add to the bulgur wheat, along with the cucumber, peppers, chickpeas and tomatoes.
- For the dressing, place all the ingredients in a screw top jar and shake together. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Check the seasoning and add a little more lemon if you prefer a bit of zing. This salad is best served at room temperature as the flavours will be more prominent.
- BK Handy tip : This salad makes a great packed lunch and summer picnic food. If you like, add some roasted chicken pieces and baby spinach.