Saturday 12 August 2006

beet·root ta·bou·li

A twist on an old stand by, just perfect for lunch. A salad of roasted beetroot chunks, fresh herbs, tangy dressing, sharp and salty cheese, and chewy bulgar wheat. Looks good, tastes good and feels good too!

Bulgar is wheat that has been soaked, cooked and then cracked into pieces. A wonderful cupboard stand-by ; easy to store, easy to prepare and good for you all at the same time. I generally prepare bulgar as the base of a salad but occasionally use it to thicken and pad out stews. It absorbs flavour and is a good chewy, textured grain. My rule of thumb is to put about 1/4 cup of bulgar per person in a heat proof bowl and add the same volume of boiling water. Stir briefly with a fork then cover with a plate and leave for 10 minutes or so to soften. I have read other methods that use up to twice the volume of water and then require you to drain and squeeze the bulgar once it has softened : I find the same volume of water to wheat works well and is much easier!

The traditional herbs to be included in tabouli are parsley and mint, but I often include other similar herbs ; a recent discovery that worked well is Vietnamese mint. The proportion of herbs to bulgar are of course up to you but authentic versions lean heavily towards the herb.

I also like to add vegetables to provide a more complete dish if the tabouli is to be lunch rather than an accompaniment. Roasted root vegetables work very well, left over and cut up or specially prepared, either way! But for the prettiest salad, a beetroot roasted in foil at 160°c for about an hour, then peeled and cubed, is just the thing - staining all a fabulous pink.

For extra protein or tang or contrast or for no reason at all, add some crumbled feta.

All that is left is to make is the dressing, which is more like a series of events. I like to add a tablespoon spoon or two of nice fruity olive oil once the bulgar has absorbed the water. Then a good dose of lemon juice and salt and pepper. And finally as much garlic as I dare for the environment in which the tabouli is to be enjoyed. All of these things added before the herbs, vegetables or feta. With a final adjustment just before serving.



Anonymous said...

What a great idea Emma.

Anonymous said...

Yum yum, this is great Ma

Emma said...

Thanks Barbara and Ma!

Anonymous said...

Funny. I made the exact same thing! I love it! Yours looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

How really fun that you and Bea made the same thing!
I think this really looks delicious! Certainly like the beet idea

Emma said...

A happy coincidence indeed! I am lookong forward to your recipe, Bea! To check out the hemispheric and seasonal differences!

Valentina said...

How lovely to use beetroot in tabouli! It's visually stunning and certainly tastes delicious.

archana said...

Just lovely!!!!