Tabbouleh

bulgar wheat and parsley make up a wonderful Tabouleh Salad

Tabbouleh is a fresh wheat and parsley salad that has been a fixture of Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries.  This delicious classic salad never gets old…

A Classic Tabbouleh Salad is a summertime staple

Tabbouleh is the queen of warm weather salads.  I can probably count on one hand the times I’ve not made it when friends or family come over in the spring and summer months, and I always bring it as my signature potluck dish.  What makes it so great is that you can prepare it in advance, (in fact it gets better as it sits in the fridge) and there is no mayo to spoil if you’re eating outside.  It’s fresh and vibrant, and a little unexpected.  I find people flock to it, so make extra.   It’s made with bulgar, which is dried cracked wheat that’s been soaked so it’s fluffy, and then tossed with TONS of fresh parsley, mint, cucumber, green onion, and tomatoes.  You can find bulgar in your supermarket but you might have to ask where they stock it, sometimes it’s in the bulk bins, sometimes it’s with the other grains.  Mine is from Bob’s Red Mill.

tabbouleh salad is the perfect salad for barbecues and picnics!

For years I’ve followed a modified Mediterranean diet, which basically means I eat a lot of fresh fresh fruits and veggies, limited meats, lots of  fish, olive oil, and nuts.  I didn’t do it initially for health reasons, I’ve just always gravitated towards the recipes from countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and Morocco.  It’s generally considered to be one of the healthiest ways to eat, and the latest news says the diet is also good for our brains, helping to boost our cognitive abilities and fend off dementia.  Tabbouleh is a great example of why the diet is so healthy but so easy to integrate into our daily eating.

bulgar wheat and parsley make up a wonderful Middle Eastern Tabbouleh Salad

There are a few secrets to making a great tabbouleh.  One of the tricks is to make sure your parsley to grain ratio is high.  I like a nice green salad, with just a hint of the wheat to hold it together.  Secondly, you need to make sure that you wash the heck out of your parsley.  Parsley is notorious for holding onto grit… you can’t always see it, you can’t always feel it, but you will taste it.  And you don’t want to ruin a great bowl of tabbouleh just because you didn’t take extra precaution to thoroughly rinse your parsley.  Rinse it well.  Then rinse it again.  I do it one bunch at a time.  First I trim the excess stems from the bunch.  Then I put it in a colander and flood it with water.  While I am doing that I pull out the larger stems and pick them out.  Some stems are fine, but the bigger ones should go.

washing parsley for Tabbouleh

Shake the parsley dry before adding it to the food processor.  I like to use a food processor to do the chopping because it does a quick, even job, but if you have a good knife, killer knife skills, and a little patience, you can do it by hand.  You just want to make sure you get a nice even, very fine mince because that will really bring out the parsley’s fresh herby flavor.  Yes, parsley does have a flavor, and you’ll be able to taste it in this salad.

Healthy Tabbouleh Salad is part of the Mediterranean Diet

The other thing to remember is to sample the salad after you are finished mixing it to check that the flavors pop.  The flavors are simple, but they should be vivid.  Use good olive oil and lots of fresh lemon juice.  The juice from the tomatoes, the fresh mint, and the bite of the spring onion will round it out.  I ALWAYS fluff and taste my tabbouleh right before serving and adjust things accordingly.  I used my O Meyer Lemon Olive Oil for an extra lemony kick.  This is where you want to use your premium olive oils because the flavor will shine.

Tabouleh

Yield: serves 6 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup bulgar wheat
  • 2 bunches of parsley, either flat leaf or curly
  • 1 small Persian cucumber (or about 1/2 of a regular cuke)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 package cherry tomatoes, halved
  • large handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp good olive oil (I used O Meyer Lemon Olive Oil)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the bulgar in a large mixing bowl and cover with 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir to combine and let it sit for an hour to absorb the water and soften.
  2. Meanwhile trim the stems off of your 2 bunches of parsley and put them, one bunch at a time, into a colander. Rinse them really really well, and pick out the larger, longer stems as you rinse. You don't have to pick off all the stems, the smaller, tender ones are fine, but remove any larger longer stems.
  3. Shake the parsley dry and add it, again, one bunch at a time, to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the parsley until it is finely minced, but don't take it too far or you'll have parsley puree! I scrape down the sides of the machine once or twice.
  4. Add the minced parsley to the soaked bulgar and toss.
  5. Peel and dice the cucumber and add it to the bowl.
  6. Finely chop the red pepper, and thinly slice the green onions and add them as well.
  7. Add the tomatoes and mint and toss everything together.
  8. Dress the salad with the oil and lemon juice, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Give everything a good mix and then store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  10. Check the tabouleh just before serving to see if you need more oil, lemon juice, or salt and pepper.
http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/tabbouleh/

notes:

Middle Eastern Tabbouleh Salad is a healthy part of a Mediterranean Diet.

You’ve probably seen boxed tabbouleh in your grocery store, and I’ll tell you a secret, you can absolutely doctor one of those up in a pinch.  Just add lots of fresh ingredients, including parsley even if it doesn’t call for it.  Go overboard with the fresh stuff and it’ll be great.  I highly recommend this salad for your weekend festivities!

 

15 Comments

  • Reply
    John@Kitchen+Riffs
    May 20, 2015 at 9:56 am

    I love tabbouleh. Such wonderful flavor! You’re so right about parsley — really need to clean it. Such a great rendition of a classic dish — thanks.

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Nothing worse than biting down on grit!!

  • Reply
    Melissa @ Bits of Umami
    May 19, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    I am obsessed with tabbouleh. So tasty and fresh. I’ve never made it though. Pinning this!

  • Reply
    Toni | BoulderLocavore
    May 19, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    As soon as I saw your first shot Sue I was flooded with college memories which is when I discovered Tabouleh. Now that I’m gluten-free it’s out of the picture but I still can taste the fresh, distinct flavors (in my mind’s eye). Perfect salad to share before the holiday weekend!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      I love that, Toni. So many of my most potent food memories are from college. You know you can make it with quinoa for a gluten free version.

  • Reply
    Mary
    May 19, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    This looks like the ideal tabbouleh recipe and I am eager to try it! Thank you.

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    May 19, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    An absolutely beautiful salad. Love tabbouleh! Pinned.

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    May 19, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Tabbouleh is one of my favorites but I haven’t made it in forever. Now I need to – I could eat my weight in this deliciousness!

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    May 19, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    I could easily eat tabouleh every single day. Your version looks amazing. I love the cherry tomatoes instead of chopped larger ones. I think if your salad could talk it would definitely be shouting “fresh”!

  • Reply
    2 sisters recipes
    May 19, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    We absolutely adore tabbouleh salad snd this one is gorgeous ! We can practically taste it from your beautiful photos! We love all salads that contain No Mayo!
    Have a great weekend!

  • Reply
    Susan
    May 19, 2015 at 9:51 am

    I’ll be making lots of salads just like this in the months to come. I’m not a stranger to bulgar wheat either and love the nutty body it gives to salads and soups. Great recipe and lovely pics!

  • Reply
    Monica
    May 19, 2015 at 9:13 am

    I just started cooking bulgur at home (buying it at the bulk bin) and made a couple of grain salads. That got me thinking about tabbouleh so this is so timely. Such a refreshing thing to make and take for a picnic or to the beach. Great tips!

  • Reply
    Angie@Angie's+Recipes
    May 19, 2015 at 8:06 am

    That’s one great looking tabbouleh and I will happily devour the whole plate!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    May 19, 2015 at 7:54 am

    This is gorgeous Sue. My husband and I love to get this at our favorite Mediterranean restaurant. It tastes so fresh and bright and I could hurt myself on it! Bulgar Wheat is so interesting too – I bought some at a Mediterranean grocery and have been thrilled with it. I sprinkle some in to random vegetable dishes too. I can’t wait to try your recipe! It is absolutely perfect for the upcoming holiday – no mayo to spoil!!! Sharing and pinning :)

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 19, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Thanks Tricia – I’ve been making it for as long as I can remember…at first I always used the box mixes, and then I realized how easy it was to make myself.

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