Tabouli salad is a refreshing Middle Eastern meal of bulgur, tomatoes, and fresh parsley and mint. Make this healthy salad recipe, then enjoy tabouleh for dinner tonight!
Fresh herbs are a simple way to add bright flavors to any dish. Especially when the herbs are the primary ingredient, as they are in sauces like chimichurri and schug.
Fresh herbs even take center stage in condiments like pudina chutney, where mint and cilantro are the shining stars. The same can be said of the parsley and mint in this tabbouleh recipe.
Cuisine: Lebanese / Middle Eastern
The name tabbouleh comes from the Arabic word taabil, which means “to season or spice”. Its origin is Lebanese, and it’s believed that the dish has been around for over 2,000 years.
tabbouleh, tabouleh, tabouli
tuh · BOO · lee
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Lebanese bulgur salad with fresh herbs, spices, tomatoes and lemon vinaigrette.
Not only is this meal delicious, but it’s also quite healthy!
One serving of tabouleh will provide your body with fiber, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
Plus, fresh parsley and tomatoes are both rich in antioxidants, and the lycopene in tomatoes can help to keep your heart healthy.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Bulgur wheat- This nutty tasting cereal grain is made from several varieties of durum wheat. It’s rich in fiber and absolutely delicious in both hot and cold dishes.
If you need a gluten-free substitute, I recommend using brown rice.
- Tomatoes- I prefer plum tomatoes, also known as Roma or paste tomatoes. These fruits are oval-shaped and generally, 2-3 inches long. They have a lower water content than varieties like Beefsteak and Big Boy.
Plus, with fewer seeds, Roma tomatoes are easier to dice, and they won't water down your tabouli salad.
- Fresh parsley- Stick with Italian flat leaf parsley for this salad. If you need a substitute, I recommend pomegranate arils.
If you have no other option, use curly parsley. Just know that the flavor isn’t as vibrant because it’s primarily used as a plate garnish.
- Extra virgin olive oil- Using a good quality olive oil makes all the difference in tabouleh. I recommend buying the best you can afford. A good substitutes is flavorful and healthy avocado oil.
- Spices- No Lebanese dish is completed without salt, pepper, and a dash of allspice. For an extra bite, swap out the black pepper and use a pinch of red pepper flakes instead.
Video: Making tabouli salad
Generally speaking, meals don't get much simpler to make than a healthy salad like this one. But cooking with fresh herbs requires care, especially when cutting them. The fresh leaves bruise easily, which diminishes their flavor.
Watch the video in the recipe card below to see how to make tabbouleh!
Recipe tips and notes
- Chopping fresh herbs
It's very important that you use a sharp knife or herb snippers 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.
Especially with tabouli salad, you want the herbs as light and flavorful as possible.
- Soak the bulgur
If you don't have time to soak the grains for a full hour in cold water, speed the process up by using boiling water. This cuts the soaking time down to 20 minutes, which allows you time to prep the vegetables for the tabouli salad while you wait!
With marinated dishes like cucumber salad, the longer they sit, the more flavor they develop. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with fresh salads.
The flavors of the salad will be at their best the day you make the tabbouleh recipe. This being said, if you store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it will stay tasty for a couple of days.
Tabouli Salad (Tabouleh) + Video
- 3.5 oz dry bulgur wheat
- 1 lb tomatoes See Note 1
- 1 shallot
- 3 bunches Italian (flat leaf) parsley See Note 2
- 1 bunch mint leaves
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon small grind sea salt or kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper See Note 3
- ½ teaspoon sumac optional
- In a bowl, either soak the bulgar wheat in cold water for 60 minutes OR, pour boiling water over bulgar wheat and allow to soak for 20 minutes. Rinse in a sieve under cold running water until water runs clear. Drain/shake to remove excess water and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Using a sharp knife, finely dice tomatoes. Add to the bowl along with their juices and toss to coat the bulgar wheat. 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.
- To the bowl add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, allspice, salt, black pepper and optional sumac. Use large spoons or salad tongs to lightly toss and combine all ingredients. Taste for flavor, add seasoning if needed, then cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Serve traditionally, at room temperature, or chilled if you prefer. Stir before serving.
- 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 below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.