March 30, 2015

I work as a freelancer doing various bits and bobs but there is one company I work for on the regs where I'm based in the office.

When I'm doing the office thing I'm a sucker for grabbing some lunch from town (which is on the door step). One of the habits I'm trying to adopt is taking lunch with me, but rather than an individual lunch that needs prepping every morning, something I can make a big batch of.

I'm lucky that the office has a kitchen equipped enough for some light assembling, as I sometimes find having a single portion, pre-made lunch a little un-inspiring. If I can take a big batch of something, plus some interesting additions, like cooked meat or some cheese, and some salad leaves to keep in the fridge, it feels like I'm making a real meal for lunch, which is a massive appetite satisfier.

The word 'batch', in terms of food, smacks a bit of giant vats of simple food, that can be frozen until they're needed then reheated for ultra convenience. I'm a huge fan of batch cooking, check out my Freezer Meals Ideas, but they don't make you instantly think of something fresh. The success of a batch meal is often in it's ability to be stored for as long as it is until you need to zap it.

Tabouleh is a fab,  fresh, batch salad that has some amazing flavour but still a bunch of substance. It's base is bulgur wheat, which is whole grain form of durum wheat that's been cracked, par-boiled and dried. Like cous cous, you soak it to revive it, it takes longer than cous cous to soak but has a much meatier texture and its a great robust base for a salad when you need a bit of bite.

Another greta thing about bulgur is that it absorbs flavour, so rather than becoming a bit sad and soggy over time, it just keeps getting better! It's body also means it's a good match from strong flavours, like the sharp lemon and fragrant parsley in this recipe.

Ingredients: Make about 5-6 lunch or side portions

1 1/2 cups/ 270g dry bulgur wheat
1 white onion
3 ripe tomatoes
large bunch of parsley (as much of a bunch as you can fit in your fist, about 1 cup/25g finely chopped- I used flat leaf but you can use curly
the same amount of fresh mint as parsley
2 lemons
1 1/2 cup really good olive oil
salt and pepper


I don't want to sound like a cop out, but read the packet your bulgar wheat came in as you how to soak it. Depending on whether it's been pre-boiled or steamed, to what extent it's been pre-boiled or steamed, the atmosphere, the type of wheat the bulgar is made from.... you get me, there will be some slight differences in the exact time and quantity of water needed.

However, as a general rule: pour the dry bulgur wheat in to a bowl and cover with 2 cups/500ml of boiling water, then cover with cling film and leave to stand for 2 hours. After it's soaked, stir it up with a fork, it should be tender but with a little bit of a bite, like cooked rice. If there is left over water in the dish or the bulgar seems very wet, plop it in to a sieve over the sink and squeeze it out until all the excess water has gone.

Once you've got your bulgar prepared set it aside and get your flavourings sorted.

I've just got a new chopping gadget so I used that as a massive time saver but if I didn't have a new toy finely chopping by hand would be absolutely fine. Honestly my enthusiasm for my new gadget actually gave me a bit more of a finer texture than I would normally do (I'm all about the rustic aesthetic).

Dice the onion, quarter the tomatoes then remove the seeds and innards before dicing them to the same-ish size of the onion. Finely chop the herbs then fold the vegetables and herbs through the bulgar wheat. Splosh over the olive oil and squeeze in the lemon juice, catching the pips as you squeeze, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mix well and, ideally, leave to stand for an hour or so for the bulgar to absorb the lemon and oil dressing.

This will keep in the fridge for a good four or five days, so it's perfect for the working week. Top it will some feta, sliced turkey, roasted peppers or artichokes to make it in to a really interesting, easy workday lunch.

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