One of the fabulous things about having a home vegetable and herb garden is the discovery of unexpected behaviors of some plants. Like the fact that you can have not one, but two broccoli harvests per season, spring and fall (ditto with peas and radishes and lettuce greens and cauliflower). Or that you can take cuttings from your ginormous basil plants, place them on a windowsill in a vase with water that you change regularly, and have fresh basil for months (it will even flower and produce seeds). Or that kale not only survives fall frosts but tastes better after. Or that flat-leaf parsley will remain green and lush until buried by the first snowfall (or all winter long if you take care to cover it with a low-tunnel).
A big tabbouleh salad in the middle of winter, with that astringent pop of super fresh parsley, is one of those dishes that gives summer people like me hope that winter will soon pass.
Some years ago, famed pastry chef David Lebovitz published a recipe for tabbouleh on his blog that was balanced in favor of parsley rather than bulgur. This was new to me — you don’t find tabbouleh like that ’round these parts — and revelatory. A bulgur-heavy salad is, in my book, akin to a typical grain salad: satisfying in its own carby way, but not outstanding. By making finely minced parsley the star of the show, along with a good dose of fresh mint, tabbouleh becomes something very different — very green and vegetal. Bright. Refreshing, even.
I’ve never looked back. Sorry, bulgur, you’ve been bested by flat-leaf parsley.
In today’s tomato and corn tabbouleh salad, I dial back slightly on the parsley and introduce some silky-massaged lacinato kale (my favorite kale variety — it, like parsley, grows abundantly in my yard, late spring through early winter). Topped with immensely flavorful and rainbow-hued heirloom cherry tomatoes and smoked sweet corn (my summer grilling obsession), tabbouleh salad becomes a summer treat. A side dish worthy of any grilled entrée, or, for plant-focused folks like myself, a main dish in its own right, served with garlicky naan (and a frosty margarita).
And making a salad like this also gives you a great excuse to whip out those crazy summer bowls that seemed so cute in the store — like this sunflower bowl from years ago — only to get the bowl home and realize that once you put food in it and cover up the sunflower details inside, it just looks goofy most of the time (#foodblogpropfail). But somehow, tomato and corn tabbouleh salad with its bright, primary summer colors, made this bowl a-okay.
- 1/4 cup fine bulgur, uncooked
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup torn kale leaves (about 3 large leaves)
- olive oil and salt
- 1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley (measure after chopping)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves (measure after chopping)
- 1 cup cooked corn kernels (smoked corn is awesome, but so is grilled. Can also use thawed from frozen)
- 12 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters or eighths (or medium tomato, chopped)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Place the bulgur in a bowl and pour 1/4 cup boiling water over it. Stir and let sit for 30 minutes.
- While the bulgur softens, massage the torn kale leaves with a drop of olive oil and a pinch of salt in a medium mixing bowl, until the leaves turn bright green and become silky (if using baby kale, you won't need to massage it, although the texture of massaged kale is lovely, so you might want to anyway).
- Add the parsley, mint, corn, and tomatoes to the kale. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
- When the bulgur has softened, fluff it with a fork and stir in the allspice and cinnamon. Add the bulgur to the salad and stir gently to mix. Chill for 2 hours before serving.