Wednesday, September 23, 2009

sliced summer tomatoes with basil and walnut tabouleh

Yes, I realize that autumn has officially arrived, but psychologically, I haven't caught up yet. While drugstores across the nation are rolling out their Halloween supplies, I am still clinging to the trappings of summer.

For anyone who shares my seasonal dissociative disorder, I can think of no better remedy than this salad, with its delicious strata of tomatoes, sweet corn, and basil-walnut tabouleh.

That's right: basil-walnut tabouleh. And, no offense to parsley, but now that I've tried this variation, I'm not sure I will ever go back. By itself, the stuff is intense—a bit like consuming pesto in grain form (which is to say, quite tasty, but probably best in moderation). But it forms the perfect bedrock for the dish.

Tomatoes, sweet corn, basil—even if, approaching October, these flavors seem like old news, this salad will make you appreciate their synergy in a whole new way.

Sliced Summer Tomatoes with Basil and Walnut Tabouleh

Adapted from Spice, by Ana Sortun

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup finely minced red onion

2 teaspoons finely minced garlic

1/2 cup fine bulgur

2 bunches sweet basil, clean leaves only (about 40 leaves)

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted, plus more for garnish

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2-3 heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
2 ears grilled corn, kernels removed

In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, onion, garlic and a pinch of salt. Let sit about 5 minutes to soften the onion. (It should turn pink.)
Stir in the bulgur with 2 tablespoons of hot water. Let stand for 15 minutes, or until the bulgur swells and is tender.

In a food processor, pulse together the basil, parsley, walnuts and olive oil until a paste forms. (You may not need all the oil.) Season with salt and pepper. Add the paste to the bulgur mixture and stir to blend. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, add the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, and let sit for 5 minutes.

Spread the tabouleh in a thin layer on the bottom of a platter and top with sliced tomatoes, corn, and crushed reserved walnuts. (Make sure to add any juice left over from that tomatoes.) Adjust seasoning to taste.


  1. you 'roided this version up. nicely done. i haven't done with corn -- and my version was more structured -- toasted half walnuts centered on each tomato piece

  2. I discovered this recipe after receiving a gift of basil and mint, and made it Friday night and again last night. It was delicious, but only after I altered the proportions: used twice as much lemon juice to soak the bulgur and only a third of a cup of oil in the pesto. Forgot the onion on Friday, added it on Sunday; left out the tomatoes and corn the first time, added only the tomatoes on Sunday; had no time to toast the walnuts on Sunday; and used mostly mint in the pesto on Sunday. It was delicious in both its incarnations. Thanks!