This recipe for tabouli salad is lively, refreshing, and easy to make. This vibrant Mediterranean salad features freshly chopped parsley and mint leaves, chewy bulgur wheat, and crisp vegetables. Bathed in a perfect combination of lemon juice, olive oil, and spices, this mixture creates a truly sensational dish.
Tabouli salad, also spelled tabouleh or tabbouleh, is a mouthwatering side dish from the world of Middle Eastern Cuisine. An all-star cast of fresh ingredients provides a menagerie of tastes and textures that are brought to life with a bright citrus vinaigrette.
Tabouli is an undeniably delicious dish — especially when you consider how it has stood the test of time. The earliest accounts of tabouleh salad reach all the way back to 4,000 years ago in the mountains of Lebanon and Syria. Still going strong!
Table of Contents
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 thousands of years.
- Bulgur Wheat – Adds a light, nutty flavor and chewy texture. Don’t forget to soak your grains!
- Tomatoes – Roma tomatoes are my favorite for their thin skins, meaty texture, and relatively low moisture. However, substitute as needed or use pomegranate seeds instead.
- Shallots – Give the salad a light crunch and mild, sweet onion flavor. You can use onions instead, but your salad will taste a bit sharper.
- Garlic – Adds a pop of sharp, zingy pungency.
- Parsley – This MVP gives the salad a clean, peppery, and earthy flavor and a deep forest green color. I like flat-leaf parsley, but you can use curly as long as you keep your parsley-to-mint ratio 3:1.
- Mint Leaves – Refreshes the dish with a sweet, cooling taste.
- Olive Oil – For the best results, go with the highest quality olive oil you can for this recipe. In a pinch, you can sub in avocado oil.
- Lemon Juice – Brings the salad to life with a vibrant blast of citrus flavor.
- Spices – A simple blend of allspice, salt, and pepper adds warmth, harmony, and dimension to the dish. Sumac is optional but highly recommended for its deliciously sharp and floral tartness.
- Prepare Bulgur Wheat. Use a large bowl to soak the bulgur wheat in water. A cold water soak will take 60 minutes, or pour boiling water over it and soak it for 20 minutes. Then, rinse the bulgur wheat in a sieve until the water runs clear. Shake the sieve to drain and remove excess water before transferring the grains to a serving bowl.
- Dice & Mince. Finely dice the tomatoes using a very sharp knife. Add the diced pieces and the tomato juices to the bulgur wheat, tossing to combine and coat. Finely dice the shallots and garlic and toss them into the bowl as well.
- Process the Parsley. Working with one bunch at a time, remove and discard half of the stems. Use an herb snipper or very sharp knife to finely chop the stems and leaves of the parsley. Then, repeat the process to get the herb chopped as finely as possible. Repeat with each bunch of parsley.
- Chop the Mint. Remove and discard the mint stems from the leaves. Stack the mint leaves on top of each other, several at a time, and chop them as finely as the parsley. Toss them into the bowl with the other ingredients and continue with remaining mint.
- Add the Seasonings. Now add the lemon juice, olive oil, allspice, salt, black pepper, and sumac to the bowl. Gently toss to combine using two large spoons.
- Taste & Adjust. Give the salad a taste and add more seasonings as you see fit. Cover the bowl and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Stir & Serve. Stir the tabouleh well before transferring it to a serving plate. Enjoy cold or let it come to room temperature. Serve with pita chips and enjoy!
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This salad is the definition of versatility! Here are just a few of the countless ways to enjoy this delectable dish.
– Enjoy as an appetizer with a bowl of Mediterranean Hummus and fresh, warm Pita Bread.
– Serve as a side dish alongside Falafel, Lamb Shawarma, Marinated Tahini Chicken, or any of your favorite entrees.
– Have tabouleh on its own, as a light and healthy snack.
– Add some to your favorite sandwiches or wraps like this Greek Chicken Souvlaki.
Store your leftover tabouli salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Give it a good stir before enjoying leftovers. If it seems a bit dry, a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil should fix it!
The two biggest complaints folks have when making tabouli salad at home are bitterness and sogginess. Luckily, both of these issues are easy to avoid with a few pointers.
Tabouli will come out bitter if the parsley isn’t chopped finely enough. Be sure to chop it as finely as humanly possible and mix your salad thoroughly and evenly.
When it comes to sogginess, it is usually either excess juices from your veggies or bruised herbs. For a dryer consistency, chop your tomatoes 30 minutes in advance, sprinkle with salt, and place in a colander to drain.
For chopping herbs, avoid food processors and dull knives. As convenient as it may seem, this is a surefire way to end up with bruised herbs and a soggy salad. Use an herb snipper or the sharpest knife available.
Tabouli Salad (Tabouleh)
- 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 or save for other use. 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, allspice, salt, black pepper and optional sumac. Use large spoons 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.
- 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 mushy, 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.