In Lebanon, Jeanette and her friends would invite each other over at 3 p.m. for an afternoon snack of tabbouleh salad. Although tabbouleh salad is mainly parsley, tomato, and bulgur, each of her friends would add a personal touch. Jeanette’s special recipe uses lots of fresh lemon juice, her homemade dried mint, and hints of clove. She beautifully plates her salad on a bed of crisp romaine leaves and eats the tabbouleh using the romaine hearts as edible spoons.
Place the bulgur in a small bowl and rinse with warm water and drain.
Separate the romaine leaves. Tear off the dark green leathery parts of the outer leaves and layer them one on top of the other. Tightly roll them up into a cigar shape and finely slice. Reserve the light crisp romaine leaves.
Place the tomatoes in a colander over a bowl and leave until the juice and most of the seeds have drained, about 5 minutes.
Combine the slivered romaine, chopped tomatoes, shaved parsley, and bulgur in a large bowl. Right before serving, pour in the lemon juice and olive oil, and sprinkle with the dried mint, Aleppo pepper, salt, and ground cloves. Toss well until all the ingredients are combined.
To serve: Line a dish with the light crisp romaine leaves so that the tips of the leaves are pointing outwards. Pour the tabbouleh in the center of the dish. Serve portions of tabbouleh salad resting on the fresh romaine leaves.
Cook’s Notes: Bulgur is a Middle Eastern staple made from durum wheat. Wheat berries are parboiled then dried and cracked into 4 distinct grinds ranging from fine to very coarse. The number 1 refers to fine cracked bulgur and number 4 refers to very coarse bulgur. These numbers can usually be found on the package label. Bulgur can be found in most supermarkets and Middle Eastern markets.
Jeanette has a very meticulous way of preparing her parsley. She carefully washes it in cold water and ensures that it is completely dry before she cuts it. In order to get a very fine shave, Jeanette divides her parsley into small bunches and ties them with a rubber band. This keeps all the leaves aligned so she does not include any part of the parsley stem. She then carefully runs her knife along the edges of the leaves in order to get a very fine shave. The time and care Jeanette puts into chopping her parsley translates into a beautifully light and fluffy tabbouleh salad.
Aleppo pepper is a dried red pepper popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It has a medium spice level and a subtle sweetness. Jeanette frequently uses Aleppo pepper in her dishes.
Recipe courtesy of Jeanette Chawki and the League of Kitchens.