Saturday 26 July 2008

Tabouli from the Tree

This title is not quite accurate. It is actually the lemon juice in the tabouli that came from our tree but I figured it is close enough.

We bought the two citrus trees in December. The lemon tree has thrived and the lime tree is hanging in there. One person told me if the trees are allowed to grow fruit in their first few years, they wont do well, and another told me that growing fruit in their first year would help. I don’t know the first thing about gardening and decided to grow a couple of lemons when the tree was blossoming. It has been most enjoyable watching the maturing of two large yellow lemons that were harvested last weekend.

I use lemon in my cooking but I am not a huge fan of lemons, especially in dessert. In fact, lemon meringue pie, lemon tart and lemon pudding would rank among the easiest desserts for me to refuse. So it is unfortunate to have our own lemons come at a time when have been given lemon from a few others’ lemon trees. We are slowly making our way through them. I have been adding them to casseroles and to steamed vegetables. But how to feature our first harvest?

E came up with an idea for our lemons last weekend. I had been out and about on Saturday and was driving home along Sydney Road thinking about what to have for dinner when I was struck by a yen for falafel after seeing this post of Lucy’s. She is a woman who appreciates the simplicity of a falafel meal.

Ever since my mum and I did a bakery tour of Sydney Road earlier this year, I have felt I should make the most of some of the excellent food available locally. Yet, my timing is usually off. I either have too much bread in the house, or have plans for dinner or it is too much effort to head out to the treasures of Sydney Road when it is warm and cosy in the house. But driving past these places as I headed home for dinner, I felt I had to seize the opportunity.

The first place I stopped at was a Middle Eastern grocery we had visited on the tour. But as I found a park, the closed sign went up. So I drove on and found the Saray (188 Sydney Road, Coburg) where I have eaten before. I bought falafel, hummus, tabouli and Turkish bread. It made a delicious easy dinner. Made me wonder why we don’t do this more.

We even had leftovers but not quite enough. E, who loves parsley, polished off the lemony tabouli. ‘Why don’t you make some?’ he asked. Now I have posted tabouli (also spelt tabbouleh or tabouleh) recipes before - beetroot and pomegranate and green bean and broccoli – but I have never posted the basic tabouli you could buy anywhere on Sydney Road. So to please E, to feature our homegrown lemons and to make sure we had enough for a second meal, I made some parsley and tomato tabouli.

I found the recipe on, an Australian website that gives recipes from many of the local foodie magazines. But even a basic foodie recipe needed some minar adjustments, based on what is in the fridge. I didn’t use mint, not having any on hand, but if you have a backyard full of mint, I would recommend it. This tabouli didn’t have quite as much herbs as the Saray version but I was pleased with the taste. It was lovely with the soft Turkish bread, smooth hummus and substantial falafels.

If you are not lucky enough to have a wealth of Middle Eastern Shops close by you might like to visit recipes I have posted for hummus and falafels. If you would like more ideas for herbs in salads and soups, then I suggest you head over to Holler’s No Crouton’s Required event round-up at Tinned Tomatoes.

(Adapted from Emma Braz’s recipe in Super Food Ideas - November 2006, p 60)
Serves 2-4

¼ cup burghul (cracked wheat)
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp vegetable stock
2 generous handfuls parsley, chopped
¼ cup mint leaves, chopped (optional)
1 tomato, diced
1 spring onion, finely sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ lemon, juiced

Place burghul in a small bowl. Pour hot stockover burghul and cover for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Season with salt and pepper.

On the stereo:
Rip it up and start again: post punk 1978-1974: compiled by Simon Reynolds


  1. I'm so impressed with your home-grown lemons (and love the critters posing with them on the tree!). Your Middle Eastern spread sounds lovely - just my sort of thing (though lemons almost always end up being diverted into dessert in our house!).

  2. Ah, a little glimpse of your lemon tree! Love your little green frog...

    Glad you felt inspired - though utterly useless when it comes to html and stuff, I have been reading Haalo of Cook Almost Anything Once's latest felafel postings with much interest, too!

    Still, it's a quick, easy and healthful meal. Sometimes you just can't be bothered with fuss!

  3. My Mom really enjoys making Tabouli in the summer, as it's a nice, healthy, a-typical vegetarian dish that doesn't require turning on the oven. The risk is always making Tabouli that is too dry, but sufficient lemon juice should probably take care of that.

  4. thanks Lysy - I have so little homegrown that it impresses me too - but am glad there are only two as I don't think the tree would cope well with lots

    thanks Lucy - it was such an easy meal - although I do like to make my own falafels at times and have been enjoying seeing Haalo's variations

    thanks Neen - I agree it needs to be moist - I served some a few nights later and squeezed a bit extra lemon juice over the tabouli as I was worrying about it drying out

  5. Citrus trees! How exciting. I too dislike lemony desserts, but like in this salad, lemon can be so useful in other ways.

  6. That looks seriously good! I could go a plate of that right now.

    I am a lemon lover. I love it in pies, ice cream, sorbet, cakes, curd, in soup on pasta, I think you have the idea so I will stop.

  7. Love those lemons! They look so big and juicy, and are just a gorgeous color. And thanks for the suggestion for the mint. . . I have been thinking about tabbouleh, but just looking for a spelt version of bulgur, which isn't easy to find. May have to come up with another idea!

  8. A great reminder! I love tabouli/tabbouleh, but rarely make it. Must. make. it. more. often.

  9. thanks Cookinpanda - you understand where I am coming from - we often just squeeze lemon juice over salad veg in summer when I am feeling lazy

    thanks Holler - I forgot about the only way I loved lemon and sugar when I was little (and my mum loves lemon desserts) was on pancakes - but wish I could be more open to it like you

    Thanks Ricki - I am sure I have seen other grains in tabouli - probably couscous which I think is just another version of bulghar wheat but maybe quinoa as well?

    thanks AForkful - it is one of those underappreciated dishes in our place too - but like you I must remember because it was very good

  10. Yum this sounds like the perfect meal! I've been craving falafels for a while - well, I'm always craving falafel.

  11. couscous is actually pre cooked pasta but texturally feels the same as burghul

    in my (arabic) mums version of tabouli she also finely dices cucumber and capsicum and recommends to not include the juicy bit of the tomato (i do though as cannot be bothered scraping it out). we also add a little mixed spice and HEAPS of lemon. Mint is great in it as is chilli (sometimes)

    i am jealous of ur lemons. the popssums et everything where i am ;(

  12. thanks Ashley - I get the falafel cravings too

    thanks Ran - your mum's tabouli sounds great - but shame about your possums - I sympathise as they can be such a menace to the garden!


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