Tabouli or Tabbouleh salad is a mix of finely chopped herbs, tomatoes, bulgur, green onions and tossed with lemon and olive oil. It’s extremely easy to make and usually a star side dish for many Mediterranean & Middle Eastern dishes.
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What is Bulgur?
I’m sure a lot of you have tried bulgur before but for those who haven’t, Bulgur is basically cracked wheat. It’s a cereal grain, usually parboiled that’s why certain varieties don’t even need to be cooked. Bulgur is a staple grain in the Middle Eastern & Mediterranean cuisines.
I personally use Fine Bulgur for tabouli. This variety doesn’t need cooking, I usually rinse it and let it soak in water for a little bit before I make the salad. Then I drain the bulgur and just add to salad, so easy!!!
Chopping the Ingredients for Tabouli Salad
I usually chop the ingredients by hand, it’s a bit more time consuming but I love the smell of parsley and mint. So anytime I get the chance to chop the ingredients by hand, I tend to use that method.
Second method is using a small electrical food chopper like this one. I have a similar one, different brand and older model but you get the idea. You can do the chopping in batches. Still dice the tomatoes by hand but you chop parsley, mint and green onions on the food chopper. This method is faster and creates finer chopped herbs.
The picture with pita bread at the beginning of the post is of a tabouli salad I made by chopping ingredients by hand. While the picture below is a tabouli salad I made using the food chopper.
What Do You Serve Tabbouleh With?
Tabouli (tabbouleh) is mainly served with roasts and large meals, family style as it is common in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Back in my college days, there were a group of us always going to a Middle Eastern / Mediterranean restaurant called Daily Bread. Most of us ordered Shawarma platters that came loaded with tabouli, hummus, salad and shawarma plus a dip and pita. Most delicious, complete meal I have ever tried!!
Recipe Variations, Notes & Tips
There are so many variations of tabouli salad and I myself have tried several of them. Sometimes because I wanted a gluten free version (see this tabouli with quinoa recipe) or sometimes I added extra ingredients like cucumber.
- Cucumber is controversial when it comes to tabouli. Most US based restaurants and grocery stores sell tabouli with cucumber in it. But the traditional tabouli doesn’t have cucumber. I love both versions. If you are going to add cucumber, make sure to add English cucumber.
- As I mentioned above there are tabouli with quinoa recipes instead of bulgur. Also, I have seen tabouli with couscous. If you are up for trying variations, go for whichever is your preference. If you are trying to serve something more authentic, definitely go with bulgur.
- You can use plum tomatoes, campari tomatoes or tomatoes on the vine for this salad. It’s important for the tomatoes to be red and sweet but not overly ripe. I prefer plum tomatoes because they have less seeds and less juice. You don’t want the salad to get soggy.
- You can refrigerate tabouli for a day or two. I usually drain it before serving again and if needed I add some more lemon juice, olive oil and salt.
- Usually I like flat parsley leaves (Italian parsley), but tabouli makes an exception. I like to use curly parsley for this recipe because it gives the salad a little fluffly feeling. Also, even if you didn’t chop super fine it will still work.
See picture below of ingredients used to make tabouli (tabbouleh):
Simple Tabouli (Tabbouleh) Salad
- Food Chopper
- Mixing bowl
- 2 curly parsley bunches (about 6 cups packed, chopped parsley)
- 15-20 leaves mint leaves
- 1 lemons juice the lemon
- 3 green onions
- 3 plum tomatoes
- salt to taste
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 0.5 cups fine bulgur
- Soak bulgur for about 10-15 minutes prior to start making the salad. Drain bulgur with a fine strainer.
- Chop curly parsley really fine (manually or with an electrical food chopper). Add to a mixing bowl.
- Chop mint leaves, add to mixing bowl.
- Chop green onions, add to salad bowl.
- Dice the plum tomatoes and add to bowl.
- Pour drained bulgur to salad bowl.
- Juice the lemon and pour the juice over salad bowl (strain if needed).
- Finally add olive oil and salt. Mix everything really well together. Taste for right amount of salt and citrus, adjust if needed.
- Cover with a plastic top, refrigerate for at least 1 hr then serve as desired.
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