In her newly released cookbook, "Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen," she gives the conventional bulgur version but suggests quinoa as an alternative. And when she appeared at Melissa's Produce to present the book along with a buffet of her dishes, the taboulie (also spelled tabbouleh) was made with both red and white quinoa for color.
Taboulie's name isn't really Julie Taboulie, although she's been called that since she was a kid. It's Julie Ann Sageer. But the Taboulie moniker was just right when she began to create her brand. From local cooking classes, she went on to host the first cooking series in the USA and Canada that featured Lebanese food. Now PBS is set to launch her new series, called "Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen," the same as her book.
Born in New York State, Taboulie learned cooking from her mother (above) and from family in Lebanon. About taboulie, the salad, she says, "It's not the national dish of Lebanon, but it might as well be. There's no kind of party without taboulie."
From "Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen"
3 bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup #1 fine bulgur wheat or 1 cup cooked, chilled quinoa
4 firm, ripe tomatoes, finely diced
6 scallions (green onions), ends trimmed, green and white parts thinly sliced
3/4 to 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Hearts of romaine lettuce, for serving
At least 30 minutes before preparing the taboulie, thoroughly wash the parsley and mint leaves in cold water to remove dirt or debris. Shake out any excess water and drain in a colander, stem sides down. If you have a salad spinner, you can dry the herbs in that way or lay out on paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth to air dry. Just make sure they are very dry before you chop them.
Place the bulgur wheat in a bowl and cover with 3 cups of cold water. Set aside to soak and soften, about 20 minutes.
Combine the tomatoes, scallions and herbs in that order in a large mixing bowl. By now, the bulgur wheat should have softened. To test, squeeze some of the grains between your fingertips. It should squish and be completely soft. Soak the bulgur longer if needed.
Using your hands, squeeze out the soaked bulgur, removing as much excess water as possible. Sprinkle the bulgur on top of the fresh herbs and vegetables in the bowl. Pour in the lemon juice and olive oil, and season with the salt. Toss all the ingredients together (preferably with your hands); it should be juicy but not soggy. Taste and add salt as needed.
Serve the salad as soon as possible with fresh, crisp romaine lettuce hearts for scooping.
Makes 6 servings.