My enjoyment of barbecuing will be no secret to the regular readers of this column. However, I am somewhat guilty of commenting on how to best handle the meat content of our country's favourite way to entertain and socialise.
This week let's look at a simple grain style of salad that really packs a punch with any lamb dishes from the barbecue - especially a boneless leg or shoulder.
Tabouli is one of those dishes best described as a salad in its modern presentation (perhaps it was always a salad but interestingly enough in its home of Latvia it was served alongside a green salad).
Its composition varies little in the Arab countries. I well recall enjoying some served in a lettuce leaf during a visit to a Bedouin camp a few years ago.
The basic ingredients are cracked wheat (bulgur), onion, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, tomato, parsley and, most importantly, fresh mint.
While we have several varieties of mint available, the common spearmint is the most suitable variety - not too sweet and its distinctive flavour suits many of the Middle Eastern dishes such as today's tabouli.
So let's start the year with a reasonably healthy salad to go with whatever you are enjoying from the barbecue.
While I have suggested tabouli as an accompaniment to lamb, it is also equally at home on a plate of any protein you may be serving from the barbecue.
TABOULI (4-6 generous servings)
200g cracked wheat (bulgur)
2 cloves peeled, crushed and finely chopped garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
10 fresh spears of spearmint, leaves removed from the stems and chopped
1 cup chopped parsley
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
6 spring onions, chopped finely
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 good sized vine ripened tomatoes, cores removed and diced into 1 cm pieces
Method: Place the cracked wheat in a microwavable bowl and just cover with boiling water.
Set aside until all the water has been absorbed.
Meanwhile, place the garlic, olive oil, mint leaves, chopped parsley, zest and juice of the lemons and spring onions in a bowl and mix well. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix together.
Once the cracked wheat has absorbed all the water, use a fork to break it up and carefully add the chopped tomatoes and above mixture.
Check the seasoning and adjust if required.
Note: You will generally find cracked wheat (bulgur) in the bulk bins at retail outlets. Cous cous has become a popular replacement for bulgur.
Graham Hawkes operates Paddington Arms at the Queens Dr/Bainfield Rd roundabout.
- The Southland Times