This easy-to-make lentil tabbouleh is full of hearty, nutritious ingredients that will fill you up without weighing you down. This sensational, satisfying salad features green lentils, plum tomatoes, shallots, and garlic with loads of fresh parsley and mint.
Lentil tabbouleh, also spelled tabouli, is a grain-free, gluten-free spin on classic tabbouleh salad. This tasty Mediterranean dish is brimming over with the flavors of zesty garlic, bright lemon, peppery parsley, and more.
In addition to being divinely delicious and nutritious, lentil tabouli salad is also simple and inexpensive to make. The whole shebang takes just under 40 minutes to make, including cooking time.
Table of Contents
- Lentils – Choose a lentil variety that has a tender skin and the ability to hold its shape when cooked. My top two choices include French green (or Puy) lentils and the less common Beluga (or Black Caviar) lentils.
- Tomatoes – Adds sweet tartness along with a beautiful splash of red. Although any type of tomato will do, I like to use plum (or Roma) tomatoes for this recipe. They have thin skin, relatively low moisture, and a beefy texture that makes them easy to dice into small pieces.
- Shallots – Bring a mild pungency and a slightly sharp, sweet onion flavor.
- Parsley – Freshens up the flavor profile of the entire lentil tabouli salad with a clean, grassy, peppery kick. Flat-leaf parsley is ideal, but you can use curly parsley if that’s what you have available. Just be sure to maintain a 3:1 ratio of parsley to mint.
- Mint Leaves – Adds a complimentary pop of cooling, subtly sweet freshness.
- Lemon Juice – Brightens up the dish with sour, zingy citrus flavor.
- Garlic – Raw cloves deliver a dose of bold, earthy zestiness.
- Allspice – If you don’t have allspice on hand, you can easily make a replacement. For 1 teaspoon of allspice, use ¾ teaspoon cinnamon combined with either ¼ teaspoon of cloves or ¼ teaspoon nutmeg.
- Sumac – Adds a bright, tangy flavor with hints of citrus and floral sweetness. If unavailable, you can add a small pinch of lemon zest.
- Prepare the Lentils. Give the lentils a thorough rinse under cold water, then add them to a medium saucepan along with 2 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes until just tender. Strain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- Chop the Veggies. Finely dice the tomatoes using a very sharp knife. Add the diced tomatoes and their juices to a large bowl. Finely dice the shallots and garlic next, tossing them into the bowl as well.
- Process the Parsley. Work with half a bunch of parsley at a time. Chop off half of the stems, discard them, and chop the remaining leaves and stems as finely as possible. Follow that with another round of chopping to get the herb even finer. Add the parsley to the bowl and repeat with what remains.
- Chop the Mint. Remove the mint leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Working with several at a time, stack the mint leaves one on top of another and chop just as finely as you did with the parsley. Add to the bowl and finish with the rest of the mint leaves.
- Combine All Ingredients. Toss the lentils, lemon juice, olive oil, allspice, sumac, black pepper, and salt into the bowl and use large spoons to gently but thoroughly combine.
- Cover & Chill. Give your lentil tabbouleh a little taste test and add more salt if desired. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Serve. Tabbouleh is great either at room temperature or chilled with chips and pita bread. Be sure to stir the salad before serving.
There are a few different reasons that your lentil tabouli salad might come out soggy.
– Overcooked Lentils. Set a timer while the lentils are cooking and check them periodically. Be sure to immediately strain and rinse with cold water. Over-cooked lentils will fall apart and turn to mush.
– Bruised Herbs. When chopping the parsley and mint, use the sharpest knife you can find or, ideally, a pair of herb snippers. Steer clear of food processors, manual food choppers, and dull knives to avoid over-processed, soggy herbs.
– Juicy Vegetables. When using juicier varieties of tomatoes, remove the seeds and pulp before dicing and adding to the salad. To fix a salad with too much juice, simply drain the salad in a colander.
Warm or cold, lentil tabbouleh makes an amazing snack, appetizer, or side dish.
– Enjoy with Pita Bread, chips and dips like White Bean Hummus, and Whipped Feta Dip.
– Serve as a side dish with entrees like Lamb Shawarma, Grilled Lamb Skewers, or Lebanese Kafta.
– Pair with grilled dishes like Mediterranean Grilled Chicken, Shish Tawook, or Grilled Koobideh Kabobs.
Be sure to chop the parsley as finely as possible to avoid bitterness. To fix a bitter lentil tabouli salad, add a touch more salt and a bit of lemon juice. Stir well and let the tabbouleh rest in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. The parsley will continue to soften and release its bitterness.
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Lentil Tabbouleh Salad
- 1 cup Puy lentils (dark green lentils)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 lb tomatoes (See Note 1)
- 1 shallot minced
- 3 bunches flat leaf parsley (See Note 2)
- 1/4 cup mint leaves chopped fine
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (See Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp sumac optional
- Rinse lentils under cold water. In a medium saucepan bring lentils and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Cover, turn heat to Low and simmer for 25 minutes, or until just tender. Strain and rinse with cold water until lentils are cool. Set aside.
- Using a sharp knife, finely dice tomatoes. Add to the bowl along with their juices. Finely dice the shallot and mince garlic, and add to bowl.
- Using half a bunch of parsley at a time, chop off half of the stems and discard them. Finely cut the parsley leaves and stems (See Note 4). Go over them once again to cut as finely as possible. Add to the bowl and repeat with remaining parsley.
- Separate the mint leaves from their stems and discard stems. Stack the mint leaves, several at a time, and cut them as finely as the parsley. Add to the bowl and repeat with remaining mint leaves.
- Add the lentils, lemon juice, olive oil, allspice, salt, black pepper and optional sumac to the bowl. Use large spoons to lightly toss and combine all ingredients.
- Taste for flavor, season with salt if needed, then cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Stir before plating. Serve traditionally, at room temperature, or chilled if you prefer alongside some chips or pita.
- Use any tomato if you prefer. I prefer Roma (also known as plum tomatoes) as they are firmer and easier to dice into very small pieces. Or, substitute pomegranate arils, which have a tart-sweet flavor.
- Substitute curly parsley if you can’t find the Italian flat leaf variety. Just be sure it is a 3 to 1 ratio of parsley to mint.
- I oftentimes substitute red pepper flakes for the black pepper.
- I highly recommend using an herb snipper or sharp knife to cut the parsley and mint. Although easier to use, food processors and unsharpened manual food choppers tend to bruise the herbs, causing them to become wet and soggy.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.