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Tabbouleh vs. me

Exhausted. Yesterday I brought enough lunch food for 65 or so people at services because (get this) my husband signed us up to prepare the kiddush in celebration of our anniversary. Which is coming up in a couple of days. Ok. But I still have a tiny galley kitchen and all the drawers are still out in the garage awaiting some kind of decision on their fate–they have been that way since before we moved in, because they’re so chewed up I didn’t really want them back and haven’t decided what to replace them with yet.

And I think we (meaning I) did pretty well for costs by not doing the usual buy-salad-in-a-bag-for-thirty-bucks  and buy-a-big-commercial-sheet-cake and buy-a-vat-of-decorator-hummus.

But let me explain something I learned the hard way about making things from scratch. There’s a reason the boxes of commercial just-pour-boiling-water-on-it-and-wait tabbouleh are so tiny.

It’s not just all about profiteering–as you’d think I was going to say. Even I thought I was going to say that. But no.

At my local Armenian greengrocer’s I bought a 2.5 lb bag of #2 bulgur (the number denotes size of the cracked wheat grains) for $2.52 and a couple of bunches of parsley and lemons and a bunch of scallions and thought I was clearly way ahead of the Near East and Sadaf-purchasing folks. And yes, bulgur is microwaveable if you have a good-sized container. Just add water to cover by about an inch, put on a lid, and microwave 3-5 minutes, or enough to get the water to about boiling temperature, and let it stand about 15 minutes to absorb the boiling water. Then drain it and add lemon juice, olive oil, chopped parsley and scallion (and mint if you like it) and a bit of salt. More parsley than grain if you’re Lebanese and being authentic. Less green than grain if you’re doing what I grew up with.

What I didn’t take into account was exactly HOW MUCH tabbouleh one innocent-looking little pound of dry bulgur, or about 2 cups, actually makes.

Let’s just quietly admit it was considerably more than a salad bowl’s worth. So the expensive boxes you see in the Whole Foods, the little 4-6 oz. boxes, are probably just right for a family of less than 14.

I ended up freezing half of the grain in bags. I don’t think I’ll bother telling my in-laws before I bring it up for Thanksgiving. Wouldn’t want them to find themselves a pair of plane tickets just in the nick of time…


2 Responses

  1. Oy! Who knew?

    I would relieve you of some of the bulgur if I lived closer. A tiny amount, since there are only two of us. I guess I’m sticking with the little boxes myself. But thanks for the microwave tip and the warning.

    (Now I’m a little paranoid about the pound of wild rice I bought yesterday)

    • I think you’re probably safe on the wild rice–I think the unofficial rule is, the more expensive the grain, the less it expands. Bulgur, therefore, is highly dangerous stuff and could probably replace sandbags in flood zones. It could have saved New Orleans! (well, maybe) Best of luck with the wild rice–which I love but which takes a lot of time cooking. If I hadn’tt just vowed not to cook anything else at all for a whole month, I’d probably run out and get a little myself.

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