Published July 1, 1994.
For the best version of this classic Arabic salad, use a high proportion of parsley and presoak the bulgur in lemon juice.
Perhaps the best-known Arab dish in the United States is tabbouleh. However, the tabbouleh typically served here is very different from the original. While the principal ingredients remain the same, a variety of preparation techniques exist.
In its Middle Eastern home, this dish is basically a parsley salad with bulgur rather than the bulgur salad with parsley that is frequently found here. A perfect tabbouleh is tossed in a penetrating, minty lemon dressing with bits of ripe tomato. We decided to examine the various ingredients and preparation methods to determine which produced the best tabbouleh.
We found that either type of parsley--flat-leaf "Italian" or curly leafed--will make an acceptable salad. If you particularly like the parsley flavor to shine through, use flat leaf; if you don't mind a more mellow tabbouleh in which the flavors blend together, the curly is a good choice. As for processing the bulgur, the all-out winning method simply involved rinsing and then mixing it with fresh lemon juice. The mixture is then set aside to allow the juice to be absorbed. When treated in this way, bulgur acquires a fresh and intense flavor, but without the heaviness that the added olive oil produces. Finally, we liked a ratio of five parts parsley to three or four parts grain. A higher amount of parsley and the wholesome goodness of the wheat is lost.list of recipes