14 June 2009

Apricots and parsley for a new tabbouleh

My apricots are ripening! The other day I picked a few and ate them right off the tree. What a moment, standing in the sunshine with my toes in the dirt and leaves, feeling the soft apricot skin and smelling its honeyed aroma, then biting into the juicy fruit! If you have fresh apricots, you might want to try them in today's recipe, a fun take on tabbouleh. Here, apricots stand in for the soft-sweet of tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese provides a delicious salty counterpoint.

Now, this recipe calls for a lot of parsley. You could get a bunch from the store, but why not buy a packet of seeds and start your own parsley patch today? Choose a place that has plenty of sun and is easily accessed for frequent visits...like along a garden walkway. After enjoying fresh parsley at your fingertips for the season, let some (or all) of the plants go to seed, and harvest your next season's parsley seeds when the plants are yellowed and dry.

Bulgur Tabbouleh with Apricots, Chicken, and Butter Lettuce

2 cups water

1 cup bulgur

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups (packed) Italian parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

1/3 cup chopped shallots

2 Tbs. (or more) fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 large chicken breasts (about 1 pound)

lemon vinaigrette (4 Tbs. salad oil, 2 Tbs. lemon juice, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, salt and pepper)

8 fresh apricots, pitted and cut into eighths

4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

butter lettuce leaves

Place 2 cups water, bulgur, and salt in medium saucepan; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until bulgur is tender but still slightly chewy, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes. Fluff bulgur with a fork and transfer to large bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, place parsley, pine nuts, shallots, and lemon juice in processor. Using on/off turns, process until parsley is coarsely chopped. With machine running, gradually add 1/4 cup oil and process to coarse puree. Stir pesto into bulgur, then season to taste with salt and pepper and additional lemon juice, if desired.

Place chicken breasts in medium saucepan, sprinkle with salt and add enough water just to barely cover. Cover pan and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer on low until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Discard cooking liquid and slice chicken breasts, sprinkling with salt and pepper.

Line 4 plates with lettuce leaves. Divide bulgur salad among plates. Place sliced chicken over and drizzle with vinaigrette. Scatter apricot slices and feta cheese over salad and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

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