|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 7g||9%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||5%|
|Total Carbohydrate 4g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||5%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 33mg||166%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Tabbouleh salad (sometimes spelled tabouli) is one of Lebanese cuisine’s most revered and traditional dishes. When we talk about “bridge” foods that introduce a culture’s cuisine to the broader world of cooks and eaters, for Lebanese food tabbouleh is right there with hummus and pita bread! Tabbouleh is a wonderful welcome into Lebanese cuisine because of the salad’s versatility (it goes with everything!), its few ingredients (tabbouleh doesn’t require major foraging!), and of course, its fresh flavor.
What Does the Word "Tabbouleh" Mean?
This Arabic word is derived from the word “tabil,” or “to dip.” While tabbouleh isn’t a dip per se, it is traditionally served as part of the mezze (small plate appetizers) scooped up with lettuce or bread with other delicious things like hummus or labneh (Lebanese thickened yogurt).
The Best Tabbouleh Uses Hand-Chopped Herbs
Know that tabbouleh is a labor of love! The salad requires a lot of chopping, and most tabbouleh-makers know that the primary ingredients—fresh parsley and mint—do best when chopped by hand rather than in a food processor or blender. Herbs chopped by hand are lighter, fluffier, and don’t get as pulverized as they do under the blades of machinery. We want a fluffy salad, not one weighed down by herbs that have been overworked.
Because tabbouleh takes some doing, we enlist lots of cooks to make larger quantities for family holidays and gatherings. But more often, tabbouleh is made for smaller gatherings where the time spent can be scaled down.
What To Serve With Tabbouleh
I think of tabbouleh as a summertime favorite, a salad my Lebanese family has always enjoyed with the cookouts of summer. Tabbouleh alongside grilled anything is such a delicious winner: kebabs, chops, steaks, chicken, even grilled vegetables—the smokey, charred flavor of anything grilled just loves the contrast of tabbouleh, which has all of the refreshing flavors of parsley and mint along with a lemony vinaigrette.
Tabbouleh makes a great side dish the same as any other salad. It is also delicious eaten together with hummus (make a hummus-tabbouleh bowl!). Tabbouleh is also traditionally eaten with romaine lettuce cups, as you might eat with pita bread, scooping up the salad in a piece of the lettuce to eat.
What Can I Substitute for Bulgur in Tabbouleh?
An easy substitution for bulgur that makes tabbouleh a gluten-free salad is quinoa. Remember that quinoa must be rinsed, cooked, then chilled or brought to room temperature before adding to the salad.
Tips for Making Tabbouleh
- Keep in mind that tabbouleh is a fresh herb salad! Keep the quantity of bulgur to a minimum and know that the salad should look very green.
- The herbs in tabbouleh are best hand-chopped. This is a time-consuming process, but because this salad is all about the herbs, it's worth it.
- For all of the chopping involved in making tabbouleh, a sharp knife makes it so much faster and easier. I like a large, sharp chef’s knife for this.
"This tabbouleh was excellent, and while the chopping takes time, the recipe was quite easy. I found my fine bulgur (cracked wheat) in a local Indian food market—you can also find it online if it isn't available locally. I love the tip for enjoying the tabbouleh layered with hummus, and I can't wait to try that!" —Diana Rattray
For the Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, grated or minced
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the Salad
2 tablespoons fine bulgur
2 to 3 bunches fresh curly parsley
1 large ripe tomato or 2 Roma tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 medium scallions, finely chopped
Steps to Make It
Make the Vinaigrette
Gather the ingredients.
Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside while you prepare the salad.
Make the Salad
Gather the ingredients.
Soak the bulgur. Fine bulgur does not need to be cooked; it softens in water. Rinse the bulgur. Cover the bulgur with water by a half inch or so in a small bowl and allow it to soak for about 30 minutes. After soaking for 30 minutes, squeeze and drain off any excess water from the bulgur. Set aside.
Prepare the parsley while the bulgur soaks. This is a crucial step in making tabbouleh because the parsley must be washed and then thoroughly dried before chopping. It is difficult to chop wet herbs—they stick to the knife and make trouble! Remember too that even though parsley may look clean, dirt from the soil it’s grown in is there and should be washed away by dunking bunches of parsley in cool, clean water.
Use a salad spinner and/or wring the parsley in clean, dry towels to soak up the water from washing. Once dry, pinch the parsley leaves from the stems, discard the stems, and finely chop the parsley leaves to get 2 cups. See, labor of love!
Cut the tomato in half, remove the seeds and pulp, and discard those. Finely chop the tomato flesh in 1/4-inch dice.
In a large serving dish, toss together the bulgur, parsley, tomato, mint, scallions, and vinaigrette until well combined.
How To Store
Tabbouleh will have the best texture (light and fluffy) served the day it is made. That said, tabbouleh can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will be delicious for up to 3 days.
- Tabbouleh need not be an exact science. You may like more tomato or onion than called for; by all means add it! To change it up when you make tabbouleh, include other fresh vegetables you have on hand, such as cucumber or bell pepper. Just be sure these, like the other ingredients, are finely chopped.
- Italian flat leaf parsley can be used for tabbouleh. Just know that flat leaf parsley is, well, flatter and you’ll need double the amount to fill the salad bowl.
- Tabbouleh is delicious eaten together with hummus! Make a hummus bowl with a layer of hummus, a layer of tabbouleh, and eat with romaine lettuce cups or pita bread.
Tabbouleh can be prepped in advance by chopping each ingredient. Store the ingredients separately in zip top bags or other airtight containers, and then combine them just before serving.
The vinaigrette can also be made at least a week in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Olive oil solidifies when chilled, so allow the vinaigrette to come to room temperature before using.