Elie Harir knows good Mediterranean food when he sees it. Even before his days as the head chef and owner of the Mediterranean Grill (703 Long Road Crossing Drive, Chesterfield; 636-536-2101), he was fine-tuning his recipes for hummus and pita, and he's lent his famous falafel recipes to other Mediterranean food establishments. During the summer, though, nothing beats Harir's fresh tabbouleh salad, complete with fresh, in-season vegetables and herbs. The addition of green pepper to the salad isn't exactly traditional, but as Harir says, "It gives it some crunch." Harir's quick, simple recipe is perfect for a hot summer night, when cooking feels more like a chore than a pleasure. The zest of the fresh lemon juice and coolness of the chopped mint will calm any palate, and along with the vegetables and wheat, provides a well-balanced meal. The most important part of the cooking process, though? "Taste your food before you serve it!" says Harir with a smile.
3 tablespoons cracked wheat
2 medium fresh tomatoes (do not use beefsteak tomatoes)
1/2 green pepper
1 green onion
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup mint leaves
2 tablespoons red onions
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Soak the cracked wheat in water at room temperature for fifteen minutes.
Drain and air dry the wheat.
Dice the onions, tomatoes and peppers.
Chop the parsley, cilantro and mint into small pieces, but not too small (they will turn dark and discolored if chopped too finely.)
Put all of the ingredients in a bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix all the ingredients together.
Note: You can make the cracked wheat and vegetables in advance, but do not add the juices and oil until you're ready to serve.