The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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August 20, 2013

Lentils lend a fresh, healthy take on tabbouleh

My mother loves tabbouleh. And given how healthy it is, it’s not such a bad food to love. Except that she made it a lot. As in, after I moved out, I avoided it at all costs. I’d grown up with a tabbouleh overload.

When I did eventually come back around to tabbouleh, I found that if I tweaked the recipe a bit, I liked it a lot more. The classic combination of lemon, parsley and garlic on cracked wheat is good, but it can be so much more. It can be different and inspired. And you don’t have to bring the same version over and over to every backyard barbecue between the months of April and October.

I like to start by swapping out the traditional cracked bulgur wheat base for a different whole grain, such as farro, spelt, kamut, barley or even brown rice. For this recipe, I used green lentils, which are packed with nutrients, low in fat, and high in fiber and protein. Plus, they have a subtle flavor, perfect for a salad with plenty of other robust flavors.

Next up, the herbs. Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with lots of parsley and some mint. It’s pretty easy to switch those up for just about any fresh, green, leafy herb. Try cilantro or even basil. We kept the parsley, but added a bit of oregano and thyme. To round it all out, we added red wine vinegar and lemon juice, minced fresh garlic, chopped celery, toasted almonds, chopped olives, and red bell pepper.

To finish it off, you’ll want to add a drizzle of really good extra-virgin olive oil. Because it’s a simple salad, the quality of the olive oil is important.

LENTIL TABBOULEH

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 12

2 cups dry green or French lentils

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