This salad, which I have on hand throughout the summer, is very Dr. Fuhrman Eat To Live plan friendly, so feel free to indulge with a huge portion. When I first started making this years ago, I did everything the hard way – hand washed every sprig of parsley and pulled off only the best-looking leaves, painstakingly diced the tomatoes and cucumbers into tiny pieces and chopped the parsley and garlic until they were nearly minced. It took me almost an hour to make the salad, so I only made it for special occasions. Now I throw the parsley (with stems) and garlic in the food processor and pull out my handy-dandy Vidalia Chop Wizard to dice the veggies with lightning speed, so I make this quite frequently. It’s a wonderfully refreshing salad for hot summer days.
Originally, I didn’t use mint in the salad. It was still incredibly delicious, but after having it at a Middle Eastern restaurant with mint, I was hooked. I tried making it with fresh mint, but for some reason it didn’t turn out as well as using dried mint. A word of caution: dried mint can be very strong and the flavor develops even further after sitting in the fridge for a few hours. Start adding small amounts at a time until you find the flavor balance you like.
The traditional version of this salad is made with bulgur wheat so it contains gluten. You can make a gluten-free version by substituting quinoa instead of bulgur. Quinoa also bumps the protein content up significantly. I like it both ways, but if forced to choose, I prefer the traditional bulgur wheat version because I like the “bite” of the grain – like pasta cooked al dente.
Ingredients (serves 8 – 10)
3/4 cup bulgur wheat (or use a packaged mix – I like the Near East brand)
1 cup boiling water
4 cups chopped parsley (about 2 large bunches)
2 cups diced tomatoes (3 medium tomatoes)
2 cups diced cucumber (1 English cucumber)
1 cup thinly sliced green onions (1 bunch)
½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. chopped garlic (about 3 large cloves)
½ – 1 tbsp. dried mint – optional
½ tsp. sea salt – optional
1. Place bulgur wheat in a large mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for about 30 minutes until water is absorbed. If using quinoa, place 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Place parsley and garlic in a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Dice tomatoes and cucumber. Slice green onions.
3. After bulgur wheat (or quinoa) has completely cooled, mix in parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, and green onions.
4. Adding small amounts at a time, crush the dried mint with your fingers and sprinkle over ingredients. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt. Mix very well. Keep adding in mint until you find the balance of flavors you like. Keep in mind that the flavor will develop a bit further in the refrigerator overnight.
5. Let chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving.