Tabbouleh with chicken and corn was an idea that came to us in the supermarket. Somewhere between the barbecued chicken and the bushels of fresh corn, the thought of turning a traditional Middle Eastern tabbouleh into a main dish bulgur and chicken salad began taking shape. And by the time we got back to our kitchen, the recipe had fallen into place.
Tabbouleh, supposedly from the Arabic word tabil, meaning “spice,” probably originated in Lebanon. Although the recipe depends on who is doing the cooking, tabbouleh is generally made with a variety of sweet and peppery spices. In addition to the seasonings, a classic tabbouleh has lots of hand-chopped parsley and mint, a scattering of fresh vegetables, a lemony dressing and a small amount of bulgur. “Tabbouleh should be green,” says Mediterranean cooking expert Paula Wolfert.
The bulgur, which is wheat that has been cooked, dried and cracked, is meant to absorb the juices from the vegetables. In a Middle Eastern kitchen, tabbouleh might be spooned onto lettuce or cabbage leaves for a light lunch or served with other appetizers at the beginning of a meal. When eaten as an hors d’oeuvre, tabbouleh is typically scooped up with lettuce leaves or pita breads, which are served alongside. Adding chicken and corn to a tabbouleh seasoned with parsley, mint and lemon juice makes a delicious entree salad. Garnished with tomatoes and cucumber and served with whole-grain bread, the dish is an attractive and satisfying variation of the real thing.
— By Jean Kressy