Saturday, February 4, 2012

What I learned from an Iowan Funeral: Tabbouleh

I have learned much since I moved to Iowa.  Much to my dismay, I have learned that college football determines people's schedules and wardrobes on most weekends.  I have learned what a Hawkeye is (I think?) By the way, I cannot find any definition for "hawkeye" in a quick internet search. I have been informed of what a Muskie is (of both varieties). I fished for the very first time in my life...but still haven't caught anything. I have learned what a combine does and what "detasseling" is. Oh, and thank goodness I was lucky enough to stumble upon a "loose-meat" sandwich- a simple, yet satisfying typical mid-western meal!  

Although a seemingly sad occasion, I have also learned that Iowans truly know how to celebrate the life of someone whom has recently passed.  Over the past few years, I attended funerals for both of my husband's grandmothers. Iowans know how to honor those they love, and they do it with FOOD!  Lots of food.  I had never seen anything like it- Iowa funerals are rather somber, traditional, orthodox events; however, they typically end with a full-on catered celebration!  

At one of these family gatherings is where I was first introduced to tabbouleh.  When you Google "tabbouleh", you may turn up results with about eight different variations of the spelling. Tabbouleh is so perfect and simple, no matter how you spell it.  Thank you, Aunt Clara, for allowing me to sample this perfect summer (or winter) salad. 

I was getting bored of the same old tossed salad. I then I remembered this delicious recipe that I first tried at Grandma’s funeral. Tabbouleh is one more example of a nutritious alternative to your typical salad- perfect for a quick lunch.

According to Wikipedia, tabbouleh is a Levantine Arab salad traditionally made with bulgur- a cereal made from wheat.  It is higher in fiber and protein than rice. However if you are gluten-free, as many of my friends are, OR if you live in small-town Iowa, like me, where you cannot find ANY bulgur within an hour's drive, I recommend you make a brown rice tabbouleh alternative. 

          Brown Rice Tabbouleh
Ingredients :
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup chopped, Italian flat-leaf parsley
¾ cup chopped cucumber
¾ cup chopped tomato
¼ cup minced mint leaves
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

The directions are simple: 
In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, parsley, cucumber, tomato, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss well.

I made a large batch and divided it up into small containers.  We ate it about every other day for lunch, and it lasted about a week and a half this way between two of us. This was healthy and delicious! 


  1. they sell bulgur at hy-vee! just bought a package this week. :)

    1. Thanks, Cassie! I looked there last of course, but didn't see it. Target in Davenport didn't even have it... I will try again next time!

  2. I love how I wrote "Both of my husband's grandmothers"! Hah! I only have one husband last time I checked...