I've never really like tabouleh. I always found it to be too parsley and mint heavy and lacking more complex flavors. My aversion for tabouleh may be linked to the frequency at which I ate it for lunch in the Walker dining hall at MIT in between classes in the Econ Department.
Let me introduce you to spicy kisir salad, a Turkish version of tabouleh, which emphasizes bulgur over parsley and is dressed with tomato paste, red pepper paste, pomegranate molasses, and lemon juice. Similar to tabouleh, the kisir has parsley, mint, scallions, and tomatoes, but in my opinion, is way more delicious!
Spicy kisir is refreshing and sour and spicy and you can adjust the level of spice with red pepper paste and green chile to give it a nice kick.
With overflowing green onions and mint, I have been making kisir regularly. I even shredded carrots and added them to the kisir to make it even more nutritious. I served it on a crisp lettuce leaf as an appetizer for dinner and ate a bowl of kisir for lunch.
The red pepper paste and pomegranate molasses can be found at Turkish or Arabic grocery stores.
1 cup bulgur
1/2 cup hot water
2 tsp red pepper paste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
2 spring onions or 4 scallions, finely chopped
1 green chile or jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup freshly parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
Soak the bulgur in boiling water for 15 minutes, covered. Transfer to a large bowl. Add red pepper paste, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and olive oil to the bulgur. Use your hands to work the liquids into the bulgur until evenly distributed. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add green chile, tomato, green onions, parsley, and mint. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more lemon, pomegranate molasses, and red pepper paste as needed.
To serve, place a lettuce leaf on a serving platter and mound the kisir on top. Alternatively, arrange the mound on a serving platter and place baby lettuce leaves around the mound.