Rob and I do enjoy our happy hour snacks on weekends, when we pull up a cool adult beverage and something noshy to stave off the before-dinner hungries after a busy day. Sometimes the snack of choice is a bit of cheese and a few crackers (like these homemade sea salt crackers I love to make). Sometimes it’s hummus and some seeded flatbread. If it’s warm and I want something light, I’ll put out a dish of tabbouleh and some pita chips.
Tabbouleh is a salad of bulgur (a parboiled cracked wheat), parsley and mint that’s traditional in Syria and Lebanon. I’ve purchased it in our local Mediterranean market and at Trader Joe’s … but somehow I’ve not been entirely satisfied with those store-bought products. Call me picky, but I have two issues with packaged tabbouleh: First, it’s too heavy on the red onion for my taste, and second, the ingredients are too coarsely chopped to be easily scoop-able onto pita chips.
So I decided to come up with my own homemade tabbouleh recipe. I used chopped chives in lieu of red onion to give a milder flavor. I dropped the mint (which you could certainly add to this tabbouleh recipe) and added red pepper. The key with this recipe is to chop everything very finely so you can pile it onto toasted pita triangles.
1/3 cup bulgur
1 cup parsley leaves, packed, very finely minced (you’ll have about 1/3 cup, minced)
2 Tbsp. minced chives
2 Tbsp. minced fresh mint (optional)
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and very finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and very finely chopped
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Place the bulgur in a bowl and cover with warm water; let sit 15 to 20 minutes, until it is al dente, like pasta. (You want to maintain a slightly firm, toothy texture; the bulgur will continue to soften after you’ve made the tabbouleh.) Drain the bulgur in a fine sieve and squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands. Place 1/2 cup prepared bulgur in a bowl and fluff it with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and use a spatula to fold the ingredients gently together. Like most such dishes, this gets better over a couple of days as the flavors meld. Serve at room temperature with store-bought pita chips or these pita wedges:
toasted pita bread triangles
sea salt or seasoned salt
Place pita bread(s) on a piece of foil under the broiler, or on the grill. Toast until lightly brown on one side. Remove, turn and brush the un-browned side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Return to broiler and toast until lightly brown.