I’m considering renaming this “Pavlovian Tabbouleh.”
I always, always, always make this grain-and-veggie salad whenever I make a summer dinner of grilled leg of lamb, tzatziki and pita. Except for this time…I made it to bring to a cookout where we enjoyed delicious burgers, dogs, chicken and swordfish. And my regular tabbouleh eaters, who are so used to tasting Mediterranean flavors when they eat the dish, were actually slightly less enthused this time.
Was it awful? Hardly! It’s one of the freshest, coolest side dishes you can imagine. You soften up the bulgur wheat in water, lemon juice and olive oil, then toss it with diced English cukes, scallions, parsley, mint and halved cherry tomatoes. That’s all there is to it…no dressing or sauce to weigh it down. The wheat is light and fluffy, serving almost as a blank canvas to allow the veggies to shine brightly. One of my favorite ways to eat it is stuffed into half a pita, with some shards of tangy, salty feta.
Perhaps my tasters are right that it’s best served alongside bold flavors, or else it fades into too delicate a wallflower. Either that, or they’ve been well trained to salivate for lamb when the tabbouleh bell rings.