Often in the average American household, parsley is used as a nice herb addition to roasted potatoes or perhaps even to potatoes of the mashed variety. In our restaurants, a selected sprig of it is sometimes daintily stuck in the top of the mashed mound, like a potato-saluting flag.
Either way, the potatoes seem to be the common link. It’s not often that you find parsley as the glittering star in a dish, or even as a supporting actress. It’s pushed to the side in the vast array of herb choices in the U.S. and even when it is used, typically we seem to prefer Italian flat-leaf.
Our family friend Bairta, who comes from Jordan, has been nice enough to make us tabbouleh a few times and each time, I’m amazed at how well parsley stands on it’s own. While there are certainly plenty of other ingredients, they all work to enhance and complicate its fresh flavor. The last time she brought it over, I asked her to teach me and although I failed at chopping even half as fast as she did, I think I understood the gist.
- Curly-leaf parsley
- Mint (Berta prefers dried)
- A pepper suited to your level of heat (Berta likes jalapeños)
- Cucumber (Apparently no one in Jordan is ever in agreement about whether or not cucumber should be added. Personally, I like the cool, sweet flavor.)
- Wheat bulgar
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
I was also lucky enough to learn how to make a tomato flower!! I’ve always thought hers were so pretty. It’s actually pretty easy to do. Just peel a tomato all the way around without breaking it (Sleepless in Seattle, anyone?). Keep the peel about 1 inch in width, (see the picture to the right). After peeling, roll it up into a cone type of shape. Flip it over and adjust a little and you’ve got a beautiful tomato peel flower to set on top of your tabbouleh!
- Take a big bunch of parsley and roll it into a tight bundle. Chop into very small pieces. After the initial chopping is finished, go back and do another rough chop.
- Chop tomato, pepper, cucumber and scallions. Add to parsley. You can also add in the dried mint and salt.
- Squeeze some lemons and add the juice. Fyi, I was surprised at just how much lemon juice was needed to cut through the olive oil. When in doubt, add more rather than less.
- After soaking the wheat bulgar for about 5 minutes, add that into the salad.
- Toss everything together as your pouring olive oil with it. Again, I was surprised at how much olive oil was needed to bind the herbs and veggies together.
Play around with the portions. When we made it, the parsley ended up being about 1/3 of the total salad at the end. The wheat bulgar was only about 1/10 of the mix and there was very little pepper.