Friday, July 8, 2011

Tabbouleh with Grilled Eggplant

I found myself craving tabbouleh this week. There is nothing like a salad of whole grains and vegetables to make up for a multitude of sins or, at least make you feel better about having over indulged in beef, pork fat and sweets at the expense of the good stuff.

Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad that is traditionally made with bulgur, although I've seen it made with couscous and the new darling of healthy cooking, quinoa. Tabbouleh also traditionally includes lots of mint and parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and tomato. I used some precious little Tommy Toe cherry tomatoes I picked up at a road side stand, and added some grilled eggplant in the hopes that it might soak up some of my excess cholesterol. My version also includes a healthy dose of garlic and some of my very favorite spice, cumin.
This is a great do-ahead dish (take it to your next potluck and the vegetarians will love you!). Get started on the salad early in the day, or even the day before, as it needs time for the flavors to mingle.

Tabbouleh with Grilled Eggplant


Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2/3 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and chopped into 1/4 inch dice
Directions:
  1. Preheat a grill on high.
  2. Bring the water to a boil in a medium sauce pan.
  3. Stir in the salt, olive oil, lemon juice and bulgur. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let the bulgur stand for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the garlic, green onion, mint,and parsley in a large bowl.
  5. Place the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and coat both sides of each slice with the olive oil cooking spray.
  6. Clean the grill grate thoroughly. Grill the eggplant slices for about 2-3 minutes each side until lightly browned.
  7. Cut each of the grilled eggplant slices into bite-size (1-inch) pieces.
  8. Dump the bulgur into a colander to get rid of any excess water. Press with the back of a spoon to thoroughly drain.
  9. Add the bulgur and cumin to to the large bowl. Stir to combine.
  10. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, and cucumber, and stir gently to combine.
  11. Let the salad stand for at least an hour. Taste and correct seasonings, adding salt, pepper or lemon juice as needed.
The nutty texture of the bulgur, the brightness of the herbs and lemon, and the fresh crunch of the vegetables make this a fabulously refreshing salad. I made the tabbouleh to serve as a side dish with Köfte with Tzaziki Sauce, but it makes a great lunch or light dinner salad all by itself.

Full disclosure: the kids were not impressed, and honestly, I did not expect them to be. The texture of tabbouleh -- with the rawness of the bulgur and the high ratio of chopped herbs -- is somewhat unfamiliar. But, it is those same qualities that make me feel quite virtuous eating, and enjoying, the salad!

This post is linked up at 33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesday recipe blog hop.

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