Most of us who have encountered this salad in restaurants haven’t eaten it at its best because in restaurants it isn’t usually realistic to chop the herbs at the last minute. Much of what gives this salad its flavor and punch is parsley, but the parsley has to be chopped just before it’s incorporated into the salad or it will end up having a stale, grassy flavor.
– ¾ cup fine-grain bulgur.
– 1 regular (not English) cucumber, peeled and halved lengthwise.
– 1½ teaspoons coarse salt.
– 4 tomatoes.
– ½ teaspoon salt.
– 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
– ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper.
– ¼ teaspoon ground allspice.
– ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon.
– ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves.
– ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg.
– ¼ cup fresh lemon juice.
– 1 small bunch chives (about 30 blades).
– 1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems removed.
– 2 bunches mint, stems removed.
Step 1:Put the bulgur in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water. Transfer to a kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess liquid.
Step 2:Scrape out the seeds from the cucumber halves with a spoon, then cut the halves lengthwise into ¼-inch-wide strips. Cut the strips crosswise into¼-inch dice. Place the cucumber dice in a bowl, sprinkle with the coarse salt, and then toss and rub the pieces for about 2 minutes, or until the salt dissolves and no longer feels gritty. Transfer the cucumbers to a colander, set it in the sink or over a bowl, and let drain for about 30 minutes. Working with a little at a time, squeeze the cucumber pieces in your fists to extract as much liquid and salt as possible.
Step 3:Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for about 30 seconds, rinse them immediately with cold water, and pull away the skin in strips with a paring knife. Cut the tomatoes in half through the stem end and gently squeeze each half to dislodge the seeds, pushing them out with your fingertip if necessary. Chop the tomatoes medium-fine, place in a fine-mesh strainer, toss with ½ teaspoon salt, and leave to drain over a bowl for 30 minutes.
Step 4:In a bowl, combine the bulgur and 5 tablespoons of oil and stir gently.
Step 5:In a separate bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, cayenne, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and lemon juice and stir gently. Add the tomato mixture to the bulgur mixture and stir gently to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Step 6:The next day, sprinkle the chives, parsley, and mint with the remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil—the oil seals in their flavor and keeps the mint from blackening—and finely chop by hand. Stir the herbs into the bulgur.