Barley Tabbouleh

Yesterday I made mushroom-barley soup but cooked too much barley (it's amazing how it just keeps expanding isn't it). The outcome was that I had an excess of cooked barley today. So I made a variation of tabbouleh for staff lunch today. I had never made this with barley before but it was delicious. And it was a real variation--a sort of stone soup version of tabbouleh--because every time I went to the cooler I grabbed another vegetable and chopped it up and mixed it in. It really ended up being a sort of barley-vegetable salad with lemon-garlic-mint dressing. Nonetheless, it was truly delicious (and simple to make). Anyhow, the recipe I made today is below, and the recipe for classic tabbouleh is just below that.

Barley Tabbouleh
Makes about 6 servings
2 cups cooked and cooled barley
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/2 English cucumber, seeds removed and diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
1/4 cup kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 bunch fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup virgin olive oil
1/3 lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium bowl, combine the barley, tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, avocado, olives, mint, and parsley. Gently mix together and set aside. Combine in a blender, the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, and salt. Process these ingredients for about 20 seconds, or until the garlic is pureed and the liquids are emulsified. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and mix gently. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 Classic Tabbouleh
Makes about 4 servings
3/4 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups warm water
2 cups chopped parsley
3/4 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoon lemon juice
2 diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Soak the bulgur in the warm water for 1/2 hour, or until soft, then drain and squeeze out any excess water. In a medium bowl, combine the bulgur, parsley, mint, green onions, olive oil, lemon juice, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.