Early summer marks the time of year when my friend Marcelle from Lebanon would host our Ladies International gathering. There was a big bowl of Tabbouleh with a plate of fresh grape leaves for stuffing alongside wedges of pita bread which Marcelle would only purchase at the area Lebanese market a bit of a drive away.
Common with our ‘chatting appetizer’ were small cordial glasses of the traditional licorice flavored Lebanese liquor, Arak.
Then came the buffet with Marcelle’s fresh Fattoush alongside any number of her special dishes, Siniyeh Batata, a lemony lentil soup, and also one of my favorites, Riz a Jej which Marcelle simply calls, ‘Rice and Chicken’ since this is the actual Arabic definition of the words. The ingredients can be a bit perplexing as this dish also includes some ground beef but with the spice combination its best description well fits the ‘to die for’ category of flavors.
I had been craving Marcelle’s Rice and Chicken Dish lately which inspired me a visit to an area Mediterranean market in Las Vegas with its easy namesake: The Mediterranean Market.
The expansive selection of size and style of fresh pita breads was impressive and I picked up a bag of white pita to prepare Marcelle’s Fattoush.
I thought it might be fun to prepare a Wild Mushroom and Cheese Pita Pizza which shall be the next post but just to clarify, my Pita Pizza is not a Lebanese specialty.
I also picked up a couple of other staple items like medium fine bulgur which I prepared for today’s Tabbouleh. Outside of the jarred variety, I didn’t identify any bunches of fresh stacked grape leaves for stuffing and decided to expand out my use of the soft, fresh pitas cut pizza shaped, brushed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with just a touch of zaatar spice to go along with the appetizer dish.
Marcelle promised to share her Lebanese Rice and Chicken recipe by Facebook Messenger one day so we can see each other in the instruction process.
Meanwhile, with a fresh batch of bulgur and pita in the bag I focused among the lovely fresh ingredients available to prepare platter of Tabbouleh.
Tabbouleh is very easy to prepare but it is labor intensive in individually prepping the bulgur and all of the fresh ingredients to a similar sizing in the preparation.
But once the vegetables and fresh herbs are chopped the final combination and assembly is quick and easy.
Just add in the finishing dressing ingredients with the fresh lemon and you’ve got a fine dish of bursting packed flavor.
This Tabbouleh platter was a hit among friends at my sisters house and agreed upon as being equally as tasty and appealing as anything served at the Wynn. A very high compliment. This is Las Vegas after all.
Tabbouleh is easy and quick to assemble if you clean and prep the bulgur and fresh items in advance
- 2 cups medium- fine bulgur, prepared according to package instructions
- 1 large bunch parsley, stems removed, chopped
- 1 bunch mint (around 6 long stems with large leaves), leaves removed, chopped
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly chopped
- 3 medium sized ripe vine tomatoes, cored, chopped
- 1/2 of a very long Persian cucumber, skin striped, and cubed
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- juice from 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- few pinches coarse kosher salt, more or less according to taste
- Prepare bulgur according to package instructions then lay across a baking sheet to cool and fluff to separate kernels with a fork
- Prep all fresh ingredients separately
- Spoon bulgur into a large sized bowl
- Gently fold in the fresh ingredients
- Pour in the lemon juice, fold through
- Add in the olive oil, stir through
- Sprinkle in the salt, stir, adjust according to taste
- Set bulgur on a platter served alongside pita bread or fresh grape leaves for stuffing