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Lunch in the Farmhouse

Thanks to Lebanese Oklahomans,
Tabbouli is a familiar dish
on Oklahoma tables.
A company in Bristow—
Bishop Brothers
sells bags of the cracked bulgur wheat,
with a packet of tabbouli herbs and spices.
I was never much a fan
of Tabbouli.
The texture
was not for me;
there was way too much parsley
and it was too acidic. I never made it myself;
never thought
to alter the recipe
until one day
more than twenty-five years ago
a friend from Virginia
who loves to cook
came to visit
and made what he called
“Wheat Salad.”
He gently, briefly, cooked
the cracked bulgur wheat,
stirred in some olive oil and let it cool.
Then he added fresh tomatoes,
fresh cucumbers,
fresh sweet peppers,
fresh onion, fresh garlic,
a Serrano pepper,
chunks of a tasty hard cheese,
mideastern olives,
fresh cilantro,
basil, oregano,
more olive oil, vinegar
salt and pepper
and—most critically—
ground cumin.
Cooking the wheat until tender
(not mush)
made all the difference.
I loved wheat salad,
and it is a staple in my house
here at Turtle Rock Farm.
It’s like so many ethnic dishes,
you get to make it your own,
adding more or less of what you want
depending on what you have on hand
and your personal preferences.
I still use the Bishop Brothers’ “Taboli Wheat,”
found in the produce section of many Oklahoma
grocery stores. I buy the bags without
the herb packets—
that way I can season it
the way I like it.
As always,
use as many locally-grown vegetables,
herbs and cheeses as possible
(especially since you’re going to be using
olive oil and olives from afar.)
In the last couple of years,
I’ve added cooked lentils—
I love the tiny black ones—
to the salad.
I often use Feta cheese
and add chopped avocado.
Pine nuts or walnuts
make a nice addition too.
To cook the cracked bulgar wheat,
cover it with water
and cook gently just a little while—
til the water is gone.
Watch it carefully;
once the water is gone,
the wheat will burn quickly.

A friend who comes to cook
in my kitchen
is one of the finest gifts.
Thanks Michael.

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