Many years ago my mom got a kitschy cookbook for me when I was just learning to cook. It had a funny name, but she didn’t really look into the details. It turned out to be a pretty militant vegan cookbook.

And while I have some vegetarian leanings and don’t view vegan as a dirty word, I could have done without the condescension if I won’t spend egads of money on the “right” vegan vegetable oil, or if I like cheese every now and then (read: a lot). But because I’m a waste-not type, I still scanned through it to find recipes I could use. And, sorry, adapt to my cheese-loving tastes.

One of the very best recipes that I turn back to again and again is tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern salad that combines wheat bulgur, vegetables and lots of parsley with a simple lemon dressing.

Thankfully, it’s naturally vegan so there’s no need to track down various protein alternatives (not that there’s anything wrong with them!), and it translated really well to the non-militant me. Plus, I love Middle Eastern food.

I have adapted it over the years, some with scads more parsley. I’m not going to lie, I love, love, love the flavor. The original calls for some mint, but I can usually do without it. The base remains the same, and I still have the well-worn page as my go-to recipe for building.

Tabbouleh

1 cup dried wheat bulgur, cooked to package instructions (mine is a 2:1, water to bulgur ratio, but best to cook it to directions; if you can’t find bulgur, couscous or similar will work but yields may be different)

1 tomato, diced

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/2 small red onion, diced

1-2 bunches of parsley, flat leaf or curly both work, chopped (Some call for scant-ish amounts to let the bulgur be dominant, but I really like parsley — I think 1 bunch would work for most but I did use a full two bunches in mine and loved it, so gauge your parsley love or your desire for a lighter salad versus a carb-heavier one)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup lemon juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

Once the wheat bulgur has cooled slightly, mix it in a large bowl with the tomato, cucumber, onion and parsley. Pour on the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and mix well to combine. I find it takes a little time for the flavors to meld, so either make it the night before or early in the day before serving, refrigerate and enjoy!

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