Let’s talk about Bazargan. No, not the Iranian prime minister, the Syrian-style tabbouleh meaning “of the bazaar.” The dish found its way into several cookbooks I’ve been exploring on a mission to learn more about Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish cuisine.
Bazargan is the fresh summer salad I’ve been looking for. I’m sick of seeing the same watermelon and feta salad or the vinegary mess of cucumber and red onion on every single cookout spread from May through August. Why always the same? It’s high time to move onto a new summer side dish that feels both familiar and different enough to be exciting.
The parsley and bulgar wheat salad is quite similar to that green stuff you’d find in many Middle-Eastern restaurants, with a sweet and sour twist. The dressing is a vibrant burgundy mixture of pomegranate juice and tomato paste. Blended with a good hit of spice and bright lemon juice, it’s exactly what the delicate herbs and mild cracked wheat need for a seriously tasty mouthful.
I think the bulgur is best a little on the al dente side, (hi I’m Italian, too) so I highly recommend simmering the grain for no more than ten minutes and draining it really well. One of the best elements to making this dish your summer potluck go-to? As opposed to being a decently exciting mixture of flavors, the components actually develop into a more powerful complete dish the longer it sits. Make it in the morning and you’ll be all set for your afternoon or evening plans.
Bazargan (Syrian Tabbouleh)
1/2 cup bulgur wheat
1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup mint leaves
2 cups orange cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp pomegranate juice
1 tsp tomato paste
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
Rinse the bulgur well in a fine mesh sieve. Place in a saucepan with 1 1/4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and drain off any excess water.
Finely chop the parsley and mint, place in a large bowl. Thinly slice the scallions and tomatoes, then add to the bowl.
Whisk together all dressing ingredients except for olive oil in a small bowl. Slowly stream in the oil while whisking continuously.
Once the bulgur has cooled to room temperature, add it to the bowl of chopped herbs and vegetables. Pour the dressing over the salad and set aside.
Place the pine nuts in a small saucepan and toast until fragrant. Transfer to a plate to cool.
When ready to serve, toss the salad and add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve with pita bread and a smear of hummus.