Tabouleh

Tabouleh Recipe

It’s been a long cold winter and my body’s been aching to eat something vibrant and green. It’s still a bit early for spring vegetables, but Tabouleh is a verdant salad you can put together with vegetables and herbs that are available all year.

While it’s a simple salad to prepare with very few ingredients, here are a few key points that separate a great tabouleh from a bowl of rabbit food.

  1. First, as with all simple dishes, it’s crucial to use the very best ingredients. This means good quality olive oil and fresh parsley. But the two most important things are to use ripe tomatoes and tender cucumbers. Since it’s not exactly the height of tomato season right now, I used cherry tomatoes, which tend to be sweeter. As for the cucumbers, I like using Lebanese cucumbers for my Tabouleh because they have tender skin, a nice crunchy texture, and just a bit of sweetness, but japanese cucumbers also work well. If you can’t find either, use a hot house cucumber (a.k.a. English cucumber), removing the seeds with a spoon.
  2. The second thing is to soak the bulgur in the dressing. Many recipes tell you to cook the bulgur. Bulgur wheat is par boiled before it’s dried and so putting it in boiling water will make it too soft. Traditional Tabouleh recipes usually call to soak the bulgur in cold water, but I prefer soaking it in the dressing because it absorbs the concentrated flavors of the dressing, keeping the finished salad from tasting watery.
  3. Lastly, don’t be afraid of the parsley. According to Wikipedia “The Levantine Arabic tabbūle is derived from the Arabic word tabil, meaning seasoning.” since bulgur isn’t much of a seasoning one can only imagine that the name is referring to the potent herbs that go into the salad. I know many people are used to thinking of parsley as an inedible garnish that comes with your meal at Denny’s, but it was an herb before it was a garnish. It’s also loaded with anti-oxidants and is even purported to slow the growth of tumors.

Tabouleh Salad

Tabouleh tastes great the day it’s made, but I think it’s even the better the next day. Serve it as part of a Meze, or on a bed of greens as a salad.

Equipment you'll need:

Tabouleh Recipe
Tabouleh
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Votes: 66
Rating: 3.41
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A refreshing parsley salad with bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.
Tabouleh Recipe
Tabouleh
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 66
Rating: 3.41
You:
Rate this recipe!
A refreshing parsley salad with bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.
Servings Prep Time
sides 60minutes
Servings Prep Time
sides 60minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper coarsely ground
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 red onion finely diced
  • 140 grams parsley I prefer flat-leaf, but curly works too
  • 140 grams cucumbers - Lebanese (~2 cucumbers), cubed
  • 225 grams tomatoes (~2 tomatoes), cubed
Units:
Instructions
  1. Whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper and salt together in a small bowl, then add the bulgur wheat. Let this soak for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours, depending on the coarseness of your bulgur and how soft you want it.
  2. If the raw onion is too strong for your tastes, soak the minced onion in cold water for an hour or two to tame it. You may need to change the water a few times. Drain and dry thoroughly with paper towels before using them in the salad.
  3. Wash the parsley then use a salad spinner or paper towels to thoroughly dry it. Remove all the stems, then grab a handful and roll it up and slice the roll as thinly as possible. Chop the parsley in the opposite direction to the direction you sliced and you should get it pretty evenly chopped.
  4. Add the parsley to a large bowl along with the cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. Add the soaked bulgur along with the dressing and toss everything together. Tabouleh tastes fresh the day it's made, but if you let it sit overnight, the flavors have a chance to meld and it tastes even better.

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  • Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche

    Looks like the perfect recipe to try next time the sun is shining!

  • http://twitter.com/foodiewife Foodiewife

    I’ve never made  tablouleh, and so appreciate all of your great tips.  The colors are so rich and beautiful.  Once our tomatoes are fruit-bearing, I really want to make this. It’s a nice switch for a meatless light meal.  I can do this!

  • lorifredrich

    Finally! A tabouleh recipe that gives parsley its due!  So many rely too heavily on the bulgar aspect.  Been craving green myself, so this may just end up on our table sometime soon.

  • Catslave

    Looks wonderful. No mint?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Tabouleh is great with mint, but I didn’t have any on hand the the day I made this. 

      • Ted

        It is particularly delicious to use quinoa instead of bulgar.

  • Faye Levy

    In our area (southern California) the Lebanese cucumbers are called Persian cucumbers.  They are so delicious!  

  • http://zdenek.farana.eu Zdenek Farana

    I’m surprised by the use of cucumber. I can’t recall that I’ve ever tasted tabbouleh with cucumber.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Yep, it’s not traditional, but I like the added texture the cucumber adds.

  • DenaTBray

    This looks fresh and delicious. It exudes spring time! My family will be eating your Tabouleh this week.

  • OG

    Bulgur salad is also really nice with a little pomegranate syrup.

  • http://www.mevashel.co.il/ Yuval

    My version has parsley, coriander, mint leaves (just a little bit) and scallions (all chopped). Also, I chop the cucumber and tomato into very small cubes – the more it resembles the wheat’s size, the better…

  • Viviane Bauquet Farre

    Absolutely stunning. The vibrancy and freshness of the ingredients really ‘pops’ in your food photography and presentation. The fresh herbs are what make tabouleh so irresistible…

  • http://twitter.com/FoodLoversClub Bloggy

    Its is so good, green and tasty. Love to taste it now.

  • Tam

    Thanks for the recipe- irresistible salad!  Only thing was my bulgur wheat seemed to need overnight soaking in the dressing to fully plumb up. Other than that- it was so simple and delicious!

  • http://www.coconutsandcardamom.com/ Andrea

    Thank you for posting this!! I once tried this salad at wholefoods and I have a ton of extra fresh parley right now but I could not, for the love of me remember what it was called! This is it! I am going to make it right now! Thank you!! Beautiful pictures by the way!!

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  • Magda Schmidt

    Tried it the other day but without the cucumber because didn’t have one. Still, turned out DELICIOUS!

  • jgg

    the recipie which we eat a lot in the middle east, is very good, though I add finely chopped nana (certain mint leaves) which add perfect flavour. I also use green onions instead of soaking red onions and remove the sour seeds of the tomatoes in advance. I realy like a lot of your recipies and the decorated food is photographed aestheticly

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  • jennifer

    can i use couscous instead of bulgur?

    • Pauline

      I used couscous and it worked out great!

  • mother

    very yum! worked well :) everyone loves it

  • sandra

    that looks good

  • http://twitter.com/ghostpepper46 Elizabeth

    Use Quinoa instead of bulgar wheat and cilantro instead of parsley. Lots of lemon juice too!!!!

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  • Elvis

    THE King of salads in my proud opinion. PS It must be flat leaf parsley

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  • Kendra

    I’ve made this twice so far & it’s a favorite for bbq’s & picnic! Yummy!

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  • Lizper

    Just made it and added some red raddish. It’s more than perfect! Kudos to you chef! :)

  • rose

    LOVE this recipe!!!
    Thanks for sharing.
    I would like to try this with quinoa and I was wondering if I can follow the same method or would you recommend I cook the quinoa?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Thanks Rose! There seems to be a debate over whether eating quinoa raw is a good idea or not. Have a look on Google and decide for yourself whether it’s the right choice for you.

  • rafaela

    I love taboule, and you are so right about the bulgur! also, here in Spain they always use Cous cous instead of bulgur, also the proportion is never good, being the vegetables a 20% of the ingredientes.
    In myy taboule I also add some fresh cilantro, and a bit of mint. Also a mix or spices (cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg,etc)
    I just found your web site, and I already love it! thank you for your work!!!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Glad to hear you’re enjoying the site:-) I add mint sometimes too. Thanks for sharing the spices you add!

  • Karen Vaughn-Davis

    I have always had Mint in my tabouleh, I am going to add brown rice, quinoa, and chia seeds for my grains and wheat grass and mint for my herbs, as I am always looking for Wheat substitutes and trying to come up with some thing I can use quinoa in.

  • Nelson Castellanos

    I made it today and it was excellent. Also, I just added yellow pepper and garlic to see what would happen and it didn’t do much difference but it brought up some different spice in it, a good kick. Next time, I will add a chili just to strength it. This recipe is Brilliant I can eat it every day and in the morning with poach eggs would be just fab!!! Thx

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Nelson, glad to hear you enjoyed it! Love the idea of having it for breakfast with poached eggs!

      • Nelson Castellanos

        I love your ideas you like mine, I love this world!! Thanks!

  • nina

    Lebanese tabouleh do not contain cucumbers and it is cut into very thin and smooth pieces, from where did you get this tabouleh from the moon …please fix it …and have some respect for our heritage

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Nina, nowhere in the post do I call my version of Tabouleh Lebanese, nor do I make any claim to its authenticity. You may be new to this site, but this is a space where I make my own takes on various dishes. I personally like cucumber in my tabouleh, which is why it’s in the recipe. It is *not* a mistake and I will not “fix” it . If you don’t like how I make it, you’re welcome to start your own food blog where you can make tabouleh however you wish.

      As for respecting your heritage, I apologize if you feel offended by my way of making tabouleh, but might I point out that the amazing culinary heritage of the Levant didn’t just spring up out of nowhere. Ingredients you use such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and zucchini all came from the Americas. Similarly, garlic, eggplant and cucumbers originated in Asia. If your ancestors didn’t have the vision to break with tradition and try new ingredients, Lebanese cuisine wouldn’t be what it is today. For that matter, if everyone thought like you, the act of cooking would not exist, and humans would still be hanging out in trees and eating fruits and nuts:-)

      • Yvonne

        I think your recipe is wonderful and looks gorgeous- I would definitely love to try it and think it’s wonderful that you’ve got your own take on ‘traditional’ dishes, which just about every family does in every part of the world.

        • chezus

          I love this recipe, and I always add cucumber as well as I feel it gives the recipe a bit of “freshness”

      • nina

        Since it went down into my ancestors and your ancestors discussion I didn’t want to go to this area although I only wanted to say don’t name Tabouleh for a Non Tabouleh cause we need to respect Lebanese heritage… but let me tell you then: Tabouleh the name is Lebanese, the concept is Lebanese regardless of the ingredients (It originated way before discovering the Americas by the pheonicians, -pheonician ruins South America) and do you have a scientific proof tomatoes are American, theories can be improved and they develop so you can’t make a standard on it…You didn’t respect our heritage when you called your salad tabouleh…you can use the potatoes, tomatoes, zucchinis and whatever “American” or non American ingredients to make any salad just don’t call it tabouleh…You are not interested in the Lebanese cuisine and you find it boring so don’t cook it or inspire of it..or throw a stone in the well… if you want to create a monster and call it tabouleh even if it you think it is tasty …or if you wanna ruin it…just don’t call it the original name you can say inspired from Tabouleh salad..The Lebanese cuisine is famous and loved around the world for what it is…I won’t invite you for a meal to Lebanon so no need to worry , since you are prejudicially trying to make me feel guilty about the what you call “What the Lebanese cuisine is about today” (Are you starting a propaganda here ?)”or what my ancestors did”…personally I love it..I enjoy it ..my only worry is that what the Lebanese cuisine will be about tomorrow if you keep inventing dishes that are less tasty or less balanced than tabouleh and call it tabouleh…I would have thanked you for changing a routine…but please don’t change this tasty routine …Truly I sensed you would answer by throwing some comment on my ancestors
        and how they should have lived…they provided healthy and accurately balanced cuisine and that is enough…what did America’s ancestors do to have a healthy diet….Oh I forgot….America’s ancestors are Native Indians…We do not know about their dishes yet…I am not here to fight about my ancestors or your ancestors …My interest is ttat my ancestors dishes won’t disappear…I just find it unfair to ruin a nice healthy dish …like tabouleh…then say I didn’t say it is Lebanese…but you called it tabouleh!!!! Does the name remind you of anything??? Will it be better than Tabouleh???? Offcourse not ,,,,Our ancestors were wise…I’m sure you are not !!!

        • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

          Hi Nina, I think you should have someone with a better grasp of English read my response and translate it for you as I don’t think you understood what I said. I was complimenting your ancestors for creating a delicious cuisine because they were able to embrace new ingredients and techniques from other parts of the world instead of limiting themselves to the way things have always been done.

          Anyhow I genuinely feel bad for upsetting you, and I do apologize for that, but it does not sound like we’re going to come to any kind of agreement by discussing this further, so why don’t we agree to disagree and leave it at that.

    • IV

      nina…why take something good into bad? this posting meant goodwill and your “from-the-moon-attitude” is what’s disrespecting your heritage not the recipe.

  • nina

    Since it went down into my ancestors and your ancestors discussion I didn’t want to go to this area although I only wanted to say don’t name Tabouleh for a Non Tabouleh cause we need to respect Lebanese heritage… but let me tell you then: Tabouleh the name is Lebanese, the concept is Lebanese regardless of the ingredients (It originated way before discovering the Americas by the pheonicians, -pheonician ruins South America) and do you have a scientific proof tomatoes are American, theories can be improved and they develop so you can’t make a standard on it…You didn’t respect our heritage when you called your salad tabouleh…you can use the potatoes, tomatoes, zucchinis and whatever “American” or non American ingredients to make any salad just don’t call it tabouleh…You are not interested in the Lebanese cuisine and you find it boring so don’t cook it or inspire of it..or throw a stone in the well… if you want to create a monster and call it tabouleh even if it you think it is tasty …or if you wanna ruin it…just don’t call it the original name you can say inspired from Tabouleh salad..The Lebanese cuisine is famous and loved around the world for what it is…I won’t invite you for a meal to Lebanon so no need to worry , since you are prejudicially trying to make me feel guilty about the what you call “What the Lebanese cuisine is about today” (Are you starting a propaganda here ?)”or what my ancestors did”…personally I love it..I enjoy it ..my only worry is that what the Lebanese cuisine will be about tomorrow if you keep inventing dishes that are less tasty or less balanced than tabouleh and call it tabouleh…I would have thanked you for changing a routine…but please don’t change this tasty routine …Truly I sensed you would answer by throwing some comment on my ancestors and how they should have lived…they provided healthy and accurately balanced cuisine and that is enough…what did America’s ancestors do to have a healthy diet….Oh I forgot….America’s ancestors are Native Indians…We do not know about their dishes yet…I am not here to fight about my ancestors or your ancestors …My interest is ttat my ancestors dishes won’t disappear…I just find it unfair to ruin a nice healthy dish …like tabouleh…then say I didn’t say it is Lebanese…but you called it tabouleh!!!! Does the name remind you of anything??? Will it be better than Tabouleh???? Offcourse not ,,,,Our ancestors were wise…I’m sure you are not !!!

  • Spice Girl

    I was inspired by this recipe and just made Tabouleh today for dinner. I added carrot, but all ingredients are very finely chopped. It tastes yummy too. I love the idea of making up my own recipe from the original. Thanks for this easy and yummy recipe :-)

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