I grew up with a Lebanese Mother who loved to cook. Her Lebanese feast ranks #1 on my “If I was stranded on a deserted island with one meal, what meal would it be?” list. So, with that in mind, go grab plenty of parsley and lamb and let’s get crackin’ on a few key components of that “#1 – stranded on an deserted island” meal.
(Side note: I just got an idea for a silly/cool drawing. Me on an empty tropical beach. A giant Lebanese feast sitting on a beach towel in front of me. Me smiling.)
I’ve tried many different tabbouleh recipes. Here’s my favorite, (meaning it’s obviously the best). This refreshing parsley salad is made with bulgur wheat, fresh mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, and scallions. It’s dressed with a lemony vinaigrette. I prefer my tabbouleh salad heavier on the parsley and lighter on the mint.
For those unfamiliar, kufta refers to kebabs made with ground meat rather than cubed. In this dish, I’m showcasing the traditional Lebanese kufta recipe that my family makes at home. Extremely easy to prepare, it makes one hell of crowd pleasing dinner staple. I make it quite often. I prefer to stuff my kufta in a warm pita along with homemade tabbouleh salad, hummus or tzatziki (or both), red onion, kalamata olives, and feta cheese. I guess I also prefer to occasionally imagine myself eating this on a tiny tropical island.
LAMB KUFTA KEBABS:
- 1 pound ground lamb (or ground beef or chicken)
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced (I use a garlic press)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup grated onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, sometimes I also add fresh mint if I have on hand
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (leave out if you do not like spice)
- 25 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
Mix the lamb, garlic, salt, pepper, onion, parsley, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and cayenne pepper in a bowl until combined. Be mindful not to over mix. Form the mixture into 25 balls. Form each ball around the tip of a skewer, flattening into a 2 -3 inch tube. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium heat, and lightly oil grate/pan. Cook the skewers 6-8 minutes rotating when necessary.
Serve in a pita (or on a bed of rice pilaf). Serve with tzatziki sauce and/or hummus, red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese and tabbouleh salad (recipe below).
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup bulgur wheat
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (I use a garlic press)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cups flat-leaf parsley (2-3 bunches), finely chopped -remove stems and pulse in a food processor
- 3 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
- 3-4 tomatoes on the vine, seeds removed and diced
- 2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeds removed and diced
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
Combine water and bulgur in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce to simmer, and cover for 12 minutes (OR according to package directions). If any water remains, drain. Transfer bulgur to a large bowl and let cool for 30 minutes.
Combine lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended. Add parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, and scallions to the bulgur wheat. Add the dressing and toss.
Note: Sometimes I add 1 cup of chickpeas to the salad to bulk up the protein. Tabbouleh is best served the same day it is made.