1. Rinse the bulgur wheat in cold water a couple times, until the water stays fairly clear. Put it to soak in cold water for about 20 minutes or until it is tender but firm to the tooth.
2. While the wheat is soaking, rinse the parsley thoroughly and pick through it, discarding any yellow or wilted pieces. Gather a bunch of parsley by the stems and lay it on a large cutting surface. Chop off and discard the stems and then mince the parsley leaves. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Repeat with the rest of the parsley.
3. Slice the green onions into very fine rings (about 1/16 inch). Dice the tomato into 1/4 inch dice. Core and de-vein the pepper and dice it into 1/4 inch dice also. Transfer both the tomato and the pepper to the bowl with the parsley.
4. Squeeze the lemons for their juice and reserve it in a small bowl or cup.
5. When the wheat is tender, drain it well and add it to the bowl with the parsley and vegetables. Add the half the lemon juice and mix well. Taste to see if the salad needs more lemon; it should have a distinct acid bite without be harsh or unpleasant. Drizzle with olive oil to taste. (You want enough to moisten and enrich the salad but not enough to make it greasy or heavy. Start with about 1/4 cup and add more as needed.) Add the salt and pepper to taste and allow to sit and develop for at least an hour. The salad will keep in the fridge for several days and just get better and more mellow as it ages.
Notes on ingredients:
1. Bulgur - Get the plain bulgur wheat in the produce section of most supermarkets. Avoid the kind that already has dried herbs added to the mix as they will be old and musty and won't add anything to the salad. In France, taboule is often made with couscous. Treat it in the same way as the bulgur, but expect that the soaking time will be reduced.
2. Parsley - Always use fresh parsley for the salad. Curly leaf parsley works well, but flat-leaf Genovese parsley is much better and more authentic. In some parts of the Mediteranean, cooks add fresh mint as well as parsley. I've never done this but you might try it for an experiment.
3. Vegetables - The green onions should be fresh and perky, not old and limp. You can also use about 1/4 of a medium yellow onion, finely minced. The tomatoes are more for color than anything else and can be omitted. The pepper could be replaced with a red or yellow pepper, but should not be omitted. Many people like cucumbers in their taboule. While this is not traditional, it could be a tasty variation, particularly with the mint.
4. Oil - Always use the best-quality olive oil that your budget will allow. It should always be extra-virgin and should have a powerful bouquet and supple flavor.
5. Lemons - Don't be tempted to substitute Realemon for the lemon juice. If you don't want to squeeze the lemons fresh, you can use a mixture of red and white wine vinegars instead of the lemon juice. I often use a homemade fruit vinegar (Raspberry or Four Fruits, for example) and apple cider vinegar. If you were making the salad with mint, you might try a tarragon vinegar or lime juice.
If, after all this, you go ahead and decide to make the salad, have fun with it. Bon apetit!
(Kenneth Allen Hyde)