Tabbouleh, also spelled tabouleh or tabouli, is a traditional Levantine salad that is commonly served as part of a mezze, or appetizer spread, in the Middle East. Levantine, a historical term, refers to a large area in the eastern Mediterranean which would include all the countries along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean from Greece to Libya. Many of them have a great shared culinary history and tradition. The region is considered the western counterpart to the Maghreb.
Tabbouleh is a vegetarian dish made with fresh vegetables, bulghur wheat, olive oil, and spices. Basically, a hearty grain salad and perhaps one of the most distinctive dishes of the region. The dish can be eaten inside the pocket of pita bread, scooped onto toasted pita bread, or eaten traditionally with a fork. In the Middle East, tabbouleh is commonly eaten with fresh grape leaves used as a scoop.
While the traditional recipe begins with chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, and onion, tabbouleh can be revamped and made with any variety of vegetables according to your own taste. You can add carrots, cucumbers, or red and green onions. It's best to taste as you go, seasoning with each ingredient addition during the preparation so that you get a well seasoned and balanced final dish. You can turn this into a heartier dish, great for lunch, by adding a bed of romaine lettuce or stirring in baby spinach leaves.
- 2 bunches of fresh parsley (1 1/2 cup chopped, with stems discarded)
- 2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
- I medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 6 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup bulghur wheat, medium grade
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Romaine lettuce or grape leaves to line serving bowl (optional)
- Soak the bulghur wheat in cold water for 1½ to 2 hours until soft.
- While the bulghur wheat is soaking, prepare all the other ingredients. Chop the fresh parsley and the fresh mint, being sure to discard the stems. Finely chop the medium onion and dice the tomatoes.
- After soaking, squeeze out excess water from the bulghur wheat using your hands and/or a paper towel.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, except for the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.
- Line the serving bowl with grape leaves or romaine lettuce and add a mixed salad.
- Sprinkle the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper on top.
- You can serve this immediately or, ideally, chill in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours before serving. This will give the flavors time to infuse.
Variations and Substitutions:
- In addition to adding other fresh vegetables, traditional tabbouleh can be given a new twist using couscous instead of bulgur wheat.
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Total Fat||9 g|
|Saturated Fat||1 g|
|Unsaturated Fat||6 g|
|Dietary Fiber||4 g|