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Spring Tabbouleh with Harissa and Grilled Halloumi

A fresh and tasty Middle-Eastern salad with fresh spring vegetables.
Prep: 1 hour
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4 as a meal, or 6-8 as a first course.
Author: The Bojon Gourmet

Ingredients

For the tabbouleh:

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup flavorful olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

The vegetables:

  • 3/4 pound fava beans, shelled , (3/4 cup beans)
  • 3/4 pound English peas in their pods, shelled , (3/4 cup peas)
  • 1/2 pound slender asparagus spears, sliced diagonally 1" thick, heads left in tact

The harissa dressing:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons harissa
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons flavorful olive oil

The cheese:

  • 8 ounces halloumi or grilling cheese
  • 1 tablespoon ghee, clarified butter, or coconut oil

Instructions

Make the tabbouleh:

  • Place the bulgur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, then stir in the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the bulgur has absorbed most of the water. It will still have a bit of bite, but the texture will be perfect in the final dish.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables:

  • Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and cool water. Add the fava beans to the pot and simmer until they turn bright green, about 2 minutes. Skim them out of the boiling water, and plunge them into the ice water. When cool enough to handle, taste a bean; if the outer skin tastes tough or bitter, slip them out of their skins by piercing the skin with your thumb nail and squeezing the bean out.
  • Add the peas to the boiling water, and cook until they turn bright green, 30 seconds or so. Skim the peas out and add them to the ice water. Repeat with the asparagus, cooking until crisp-tender, about 1 minute.

Make the harissa dressing:

  • In a small bowl, stir together the harissa, lemon juice and olive oil.

Finish the tabbouleh:

  • When the bulgur and vegetables are ready, drain the chilled vegetables and add them to the bulgur along with the remaining teaspoon of salt, the black pepper, scallions, mint and parsley. Taste the tabbouleh, adding more salt, lemon juice, or olive oil if you think it needs it. Chill the tabbouleh while you prepare the cheese, or cover and chill for up to a few hours.

Fry the cheese:

  • Slice the halloumi into 1/4" thick pieces. Heat the ghee in a heavy, wide skillet over medium heat. Add the cheese in a single layer, spacing it a little bit apart as it will melt slightly, and cook on each side until golden, crisp, and melty, about 1 minute per side. Either serve immediately, or remove to a plate to cool while you fry a second batch, and cut into smaller pieces.
  • Either way, divide the tabbouleh among plates or bowls, top with the cheese, and drizzle with the harissa.
  • The tabbouleh is best the same day, as the vegetables and herbs will lose a bit of color, but leftovers will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.

Notes

Adapted from Ina Garten.
A few notes on ingredients: I know that bulgur wheat comes in fine, medium and coarse grinds, but the stuff I got from the bulk section of our co-op had no such label. Going by this Heidi Swanson recipe (which looks really good), I'd wager that you want the fine or medium stuff if given the choice.
Harissa, a Tunisian chili paste, can be found in the Middle-Eastern section of well-stocked grocers, or you can make your own. The one I used wasn't particularly hot-spicy, but you may want to taste yours first before dousing your food with it.
Halloumi, also called grilling cheese, is a mild, semi-firm cheese that tastes a bit like mozzarella, though without the stringy texture.
This salad can be made a few hours in advance, but plan to serve it the same day, as the herbs and vegetables may discolor if left longer than that.
Nutritional values are based on one of four servings.

Nutrition

Calories: 750kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 1955mg | Potassium: 946mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 3120IU | Vitamin C: 74.7mg | Calcium: 714mg | Iron: 6.7mg
Making this? I'd love to see!Tag your snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet!