Welcome to summer in Vienna!. Oh wait it’s only May…? If the warm weather is a bit confusing to you, don’t worry it’s not normal for Vienna. This April has been the second warmest April on record. I, for one, love the warm weather, it’s great. Sitting outside, T-shirts & shorts, etc.. But honestly I wasn’t prepared for it.
These summer like conditions, compel me to make everything „lighter“ : food, clothes … me. This isn’t really a fashion or fitness blog, so let’s stick to food. I think it’s time to share some of the lighter recipes from our lovely Syrian ladies, starting with probably one of their most popular salads. Tabouli or tabbouleh is a traditional salad from the Syrian and Levantine cuisine. Is probably the most famous salad from this area. The salad itself is very simple, but don’t let that mislead you. You need a lot of time and patience to make a proper tabouli as I found out at our last Food for Thought dinner.
I got to Vielmehr für Alle, in the Ulmannstraße 45, early to help the ladies with dinner preparations. I love cooking and always jump at the chance to help them with the food prep, instead of moving furniture or setting up the tables. I’ve been given several different tasks before, but this was the first time I was asked to help with the tabouli. My instructions were - klein schneiden - cut the tomatoes and onions into small pieces. Now again, as with the recipe itself, that seems simple enough, but small is a relative term.
On a side note I have had this situation several years before with the mother of an Austrian friend. It was chives at the time, and my inability to cut them small enough is still remembered and brought up to this day. I could have guessed, that this would be no different.
I began by cutting the tomato into what I believed to be small pieces. After about ½ a tomato, I presented my work to confirm that I was properly cutting the tomatoes, expecting of course nods of agreement and words of approval.
Instead, I was met with sympathy by our ladies at my lack of talent and was told comfortingly that this was no easy task. While they quickly repossessed my tomatoes and began to cut them into smaller pieces, smaller than mine. They reassured me that it was ok if I did not wish to continue.
Unnerved but not out of the game yet, I told them that I would try harder and that I had not known just how small the pieces should be. Size being relative and what not. I’m not sure they believed me but were to polite to say no. In the end I finished my tomatoes with praise from our ladies, only repeat my failure with the green onions.
Below is the recipe from our ladies. As mentioned tabouli is very simple salad and this is a more traditional recipe. It can of course be changed to taste.
While many think the bulgur should be the star in this salad, they are wrong. This salad is all about the broad leaf parsley, which should be cut super fine. You could even put it in a food processor if you like. The other ingredients should be cut by hand. Just remember, in tabouli everything needs to be cut very small and fine. And, this is not just because our ladies are perfectionist, it actually adds the the harmony of the salad. The finely cut ingredients are able to blend together creating a refreshing dish. You can make it beforehand and let it sit overnight in the fridge. Take it out and serve it with fresh bread for a cooling summer treat.
This salad is vegan and can be made gluten free if you exchange the bulgur for quinoa. I hope you enjoy the making tabouli, it is definitely worth the time and effort.
3 parsley bounds
Pinch of salt
Cup of mint
½ cup of bulgur (cracked wheat)
½ cup chopped green onion
Following those, I would say that the other main ingredient is patience :)
Chop washed parsley, tomatoes and onions cut very fine.
For the bulgur you typically let the it soak in water for 10 min, draining the water afterwards.
For quinoa check the package for cooking instructions. Season with olive oil, lemon and salt to taste. Mix all ingredients and serve fresh
Photographs by Ewa Podgórska