Summer is nearly here. For many Memorial Day weekend marked the beginning of summer with barbecues and backyard parties. And with the hot weather that we on the East coast are already having, it's easy to start entertaining like it's summer. I found myself pulling out the grill for the first time yesterday, and it couldn't have happened any sooner. My oven will be on hiatus for the next few months. Right now with the availability of fresh spring salad greens and herbs in farmers' markets, I find myself creating recipes that require little or no cooking. I'm taking every opportunity to use garden-fresh produce, especially herbs.

One in particular is my favorite as well as the most utilized herb of many cuisines. Parsley, what would Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking be without it? You might only know parsley as a sprig of green that garnishes food. But one of the best uses for parsley as a main ingredient is the popular Lebanese dish of tabbouleh. Served in many Mediterranean restaurants and even supermarket salad bars, it's no stranger to American palates. It's a refreshing salad typically served alongside Middle Eastern appetizers called mezze. It can also be very versatile, making a great summer salad to eat with grilled meats.

The ingredients in tabbouleh are always the same: lots of parsley, some mint, scallions, cucumber, tomato, and bulgur. It's all tossed in lemon juice and olive oil. It's fruity, peppery, and very fresh. It's simple and relatively quick to put together. Plus there is no cooking required as it's all assembly. Once made it can be served right away or chilled. Eat it alone, as a side, or throw a mezze party for friends and include hummus, dolma, baba ghanouj, and pita among many other dips and salads. This summer there can be nothing better than refreshing foods to cool you down.


1 cup bulgur
2 bunches parsley, leaves coarsely chopped, stems finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 long cucumber, peeled,seeded, and diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Soak bulgur in 1-1/2 cups boiling water for 1 hour.

Combine bulgur with parsley, mint, scallions, cucumber, and tomatoes; toss to combine. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


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