Whether you spell it tabbouleh or tabouli, this Lebanese tabbouleh is a refreshing, herby salad. Made with a base of parsley, mint, and bulgur, it's also more filling than many salad recipes.
Serve alongside za'atar chicken for a quick and delicious dinner, or even with Turkish eggs for a lighter lunch. Tabbouleh stores well and can be made ahead of time to pack for lunches (see more on this below). It's traditionally served as part of a meze with dishes like hummus, mutabal, and labneh balls.
What is Tabbouleh?
Tabbouleh, tabouli, or tabouleh is a bulgur and herb salad from the Levant region. The Lebanese version differs in that it uses more parsley than bulgur (much more, as you'll see in the recipe) for a very herb-based salad that's fresh and vibrant.
Bulgur is a cracked wheat that's very common in Middle Eastern cuisines. It's used all over the world and can be found in most grocery stores these days, but is easiest to find at Middle Eastern grocers or online.
Fine or extra fine bulgur wheat is parboiled, or partially pre-cooked, because the whole grain takes a very long time to cook. This recipe calls for fine or extra fine, which only needs soaking with hot water.
You need 2 big bunches of parsley for this recipe (try growing your own!) and it should be in good condition, green and healthy. All of the ingredients needed are quite easy to find at just about any grocery store.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Bulgur: standard bulgur can be used for this recipe, cooked according to package instructions. For a gluten-free substitution, use cooked and cooled quinoa. You can also try couscous.
- Flat-leaf parsley: curly parsley can be used in a pinch, but I don't really recommend it. Flat leaf is best for texture and flavor.
- Scallions: also called green onions or spring onions are ideal, but you can also use finely minced red or white onion.
How to Make Tabbouleh Salad
Ready in half an hour, with most of that time needed just to soak the bulgur, this herb salad is so easy to make at home. If chopping the herbs by hand is too tricky, you can use a food processor to make quick work of it.
1. Soak: cover the bulgur in hot water and set aside for 30 minutes.
2. Prep and mix: while the bulgur is soaking, chop the herbs and mix everything but the bulgur in a large bowl.
3. Drain: pour the bulgur into a fine sieve and drain as much water as possible. Transfer it to the salad bowl.
4. Mix and serve: Mix, taste, adjust seasoning and chill if possible before serving.
Make Ahead and Storage
Make Ahead: the salad should be made at least one hour in advance, so that the flavours can blend effectively. Prepare it a day in advance and refrigerate in a sealed container.
Store: keep any leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Tabbouleh salad can be enjoyed with:
- Grilled proteins and vegetables
- As a side with za'atar chicken, Musakhan (Sumac Chicken), Musakhan (upside down chicken and rice) and Vermicelli Rice.
- On its own in romaine heart boats
- Dry your herbs before cutting: this is important to avoid bruising and adding extra moisture to the salad. I like to wash and spin the herbs dry in a salad spinner before shopping.
- Use a sharp knife: you want a nice clean chop for the herbs, and using a dull knife can bruise them, leading to discoloring.
- Choose a mint you like: peppermint is more common, but much stronger than spearmint (it contains much more menthol), so if you want a traditional salad but don't love mint, use spearmint. If you don't like mint, you can leave it out entirely.
Bulgur is a whole grain that's been cracked and dried, and fine bulgur is also partially cooked before drying. Couscous is more similar to pasta and can be made with white or whole grain flour.
It contains plenty of greens with all the herbs, used whole grain bulgur, and is high in fiber and vitamins. It's a good addition to a healthy meal.
More Herb Recipes You'll Love
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Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad
- ¼ cup Bulgur wheat - Fine or extra fine
- ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoon Lemon juice
- 2 cups Parsley - Finely minced (about 2 bunches, stems discarded)
- ¼ cup Mint - Finely minced (about ½ bunch, stems discarded)
- 2 Tomatoes - Finely diced
- 4 Green onions - Finely diced
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Romaine heart leaves for serving
- In a small bowl or measuring cup add the bulgur wheat and enough hot water to cover it by an inch. Set aside for 30 minutes for the bulgur wheat to soak and plump.
- In a large bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, minced parsley, mint, diced tomatoes, scallions, a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss lightly to combine.
- Using a small colander, drain the bulgur wheat, squeeze as much water out as you can and add it to the rest of the salad.
- Toss, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Serve the tabbouleh immediately, or, ideally, allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour so the flavors can blend. Serve with romaine lettuce hearts.
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