At what point in the modification of a tabbouleh recipe does the result cease to be tabbouleh and become, instead, an anonymous bulgur salad? It’s a tricky ontological question, and I don’t claim to have an answer. All I know is that I started with the tabbouleh recipe from The Joy of Cooking and arrived at the following, and that it makes an excellent light supper for four on a warm summer night.
- 1 cup medium bulgur
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 small cucumber, seeds removed, finely diced
- 1 bunch fresh parsley sprigs (about 2 cups), finely chopped
- 1 bunch fresh mint sprigs (about 1 packed cup), finely chopped
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 head romaine lettuce, outer leaves discarded, separated into leaves, washed, and dried
Combine the bulgur and boiling water in a large bowl. Cover with a plate and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain in a sieve, then rinse under cool water. Press the bulgur with the back of a spoon to remove the excess moisture. Return the bulgur to the bowl, then add the bell pepper, cucumber, parsley, mint, and onion.
Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, sumac, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk them together, then add them to the bulgur and toss to coat. Add the feta and stir gently. Serve the salad with romaine lettuce leaves; use the leaves to scoop up the salad.