Our Tennessee tomatoes project now includes a variation on basic tabouli, but without the cracked wheat. It’s lentil tabouli and it’s a great line extension and use for those fantastic tomatoes. And another good way to get more lentils into mealtime rotation.
The gyro and kebab outposts have quickly multiplied in Nashville, just as Mexican spots once sprang up. You can find mediterranean restaurants in business corridor strip malls all over town feeding the hungry short-sleeve lunch crowd. Baba ganoosh, tabouli, lamb kebabs, hummus, gyro plates with hot fries, and grilled chicken stuffed in pita pockets–you know the menu. It’s the tabouli that interests me and I love lentils so why not combine the two and skip the #2 bulgar for a change?
I find essentially two tabouli styles — the same ingredients but combined in different ratios. Both are delicious. One is tart, mostly a “parsley relish” and more like chimichurri, with just a sparse scattering of tomato, onion, and wheat bits. Dressed with plenty of assertive lemon, it’s perfect for piling on a plateful of falafel, or scooping up with pita and hummus.
The other tabouli style is a more of a wholesome bulgur wheat salad loaded with the parsley and all the other stuff. Reminds me of all those healthy Moosewood Cookbook college potlucks back when we first discovered hummus and wore a lot of flannel.
Tabouli is still perfect for potlucks, or any time you need a fresh, ready-early salad, like my favorite Lima Bean Tabouli. Sure, swap the bulgur for beans, if you want. This lentil tabouli recipe below replaces the wheat with lentils and I love it. Maybe new style bean taboulis taste best with beans that start with the letter “L.” My instincts tell me to say “no” to white beans, black beans, pintos, and black-eyed peas. But, on second thought, I’ll report back on other bean tabouli adaptations.
- 3 cups cooked lentils, drained and cooled
- 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley or fresh mint, chopped, or a blend of both
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup olive oil, or to taste
- Juice of one lemon, or to taste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine lentils, parsley, tomatoes, and onion in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough olive oil to give the salad a nice sheen, but not look too oily. Squeeze on the lemon juice. Toss and season with salt and pepper. Chill. Makes 8 servings.
NOTE: Cook a one-pound bag of lentils according to the package directions. One pound makes about 6 cups, enough to double this recipe.