“Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” -Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist
The other night I was thrilled to learn we’d be spending the evening’s class making falafel, babaganoush, and tabbouleh. These exotic Middle-Eastern dishes are some of my favorites, and like nearly everyone my age, I lived off of this stuff in college. It’s cheap, it’s delicious, and it’s healthy. As a student at Parsons School of Design, it was Mamoun’s in the West Village near my tiny 6th floor walk-up apartment, and in Providence at Rhode Island School of Design, you could take your pick from about 5 or 6 little falafel spots on Thayer Street. (Hey, when you’ve got Brown University, RISD, and Johnson & Wales all right next to each other, you need an obscene amount of falafel sandwich-providing establishments!)
So how did our creations turn out in class? Well, the falafel was some of the best I’d ever had. (Recipe is in the pipeline!) The babaganoush tasted good, but it had a texture I wasn’t too thrilled with, and I like the way I make it better. And the tabbouleh, well, the school’s recipe for tabbouleh totally sucked. Yeah, that’s right, I said it.
I make my own version of tabbouleh all the time. It’s always the first recipe I think of when I just want something quick, yummy, light, and healthy that I can eat heaps of and not feel like Jabba the Hutt afterward. Admittedly, my version isn’t the most traditional one, but I stand by it wholeheartedly in terms of flavor. Where the school used water, I use homemade chicken stock. Where the school used finely diced (and I might add watery, bland, and flavorless) tomatoes, I use luscious, sweet halved grape tomatoes and crunchy, refreshing English cucumber. Oh, and I also add big chunks of juicy, roasted chicken. Sorry FCI, I’ve got you beat on this one!
This is one of those great sort of “freeform” recipes that doesn’t use a lot of exact measurements or complicated techniques. There is a lot of breathing room here for variance. If you’re vegetarian, you can absolutely omit the chicken and replace the chicken stock with either water or vegetable stock.
About 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock (preferably homemade, or replace with water or vegetable stock)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 chicken breasts, roasted, skin removed, and diced into large chunks (NOTE: You can also use store-bought rotisserie chicken.)
About 2/3 of an English cucumber, washed and cut into chunks approximately 1/2″ in size
About 2/3 package of grape tomatoes, washed and halved lengthwise
2-3 scallions, washed and sliced fine (NOTE: Both white and green parts can be used.)
About 1/2 of a bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley, stems removed and leaves chopped fine
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a pot of chicken stock to a boil on the stove. As soon as the stock comes to a boil, turn off the heat.
2. Dump the bulgur wheat, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil into a large bowl. Pour the hot chicken stock over the bulgur wheat mixture so that the surface of the stock is about 3/4″ above the top of the wheat. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave alone for about 30 minutes to steam. (NOTE: This method works for making any amount of bulgur wheat. However much wheat you have, just make sure the liquid is about 3/4″ more.)
3. While the wheat is steaming, prepare the vegetables and chicken if you haven’t already.
4. When wheat is ready, remove plastic wrap and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chicken, grape tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, and parsley and toss together. Spoon generous mounds into large shallow bowls and serve. This salad can be served warm or room temperature. Even cold works, but you should know that once you refrigerate tomatoes they tend to lose a bit of their flavor.
Yield: This recipe makes approximately 4 generous helpings of salad, but can easily be adjusted.Printer Friendly