Tabouli salad or Tabbouleh is a simple salad of very finely chopped vegetables, lots of fresh parsley and bulgur wheat, all tossed with lime juice and olive oil. See the tips below.
Tabouli is likely the topmost famed Mediterranean/Middle Eastern salad there is. Because it is now sold in most large supermarkets around the world, I feel compelled to dispel one thing: the “star of the show,” so to speak, in a tabouli recipe is not the bulgur. The idea is to have a little bulgur with the salad, not a little salad with your bulgur.
Parsley is the true “star of the show”
The true star in a tabouli recipe is the very finely chopped parsley–lots of it. Parsley holds well against the citrus in the dressing; that’s why tabouli is even better the next day. Some tabouli recipes like this one, call for a few fresh mint leaves and green onions, while others use only parsley and red onions instead. This recipe is closest to the version I grew up with; but feel free to make it your own.
Important tips for this tabouli salad recipe:
1- In this tabouli recipe, I recommend extra fine bulgur. Extra fine bulgur does not need hot water nor too much time to soak before adding it to the salad. If you end up using coarse or extra coarse bulgur, then hot water is recommended and you will need to soak it for 45 minutes or so.
2- To achieve the right tabouli texture, you will need to chop the vegetables as finely as possible. I have been asked before if a food processor can be used here; you can use it to chop the parsley if you wish, but I would advice you to chop the tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions using a sharp knife.
3- Be sure to use firm tomatoes. Once chopped, place the tomatoes in a colander to drain excess juice.
4- This recipe calls for cucumbers; other versions of tabouli do not. I like to use English Cucumbers also known as hothouse cucumbers, they are long, thin skinned, and generally seedless. If you choose to use the more common American cucumbers, be sure to remove the skin; cut the cucumber in halves and remove most of the seeds then proceed to chop.
For best results, cover the tabouli and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. If you like, serve the tabouli with a side of pita and romaine lettuce leaves, which act as wraps or “boats” for the tabouli.
- ½ cup extra fine bulgur wheat
- 4 firm Roma tomatoes, very finely chopped
- 1 English cucumber (hothouse cucumber), very finely chopped
- 2 bunches parsley, part of the stems removed, washed and well-dried, very finely chopped
- 12-15 fresh mint leaves, stems removed, washed, well-dried, very finely chopped
- 4 green onions, white and green parts, very finely chopped
- 3-4 tbsp lime juice (lemon juice, if you prefer)
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Romaine lettuce leaves to serve, optional
- Wash the bulgur wheat and soak it in water for 5-7 minute. Drain very well (squeeze the bulgur wheat by hand to get rid of any excess water). Set aside.
- Very finely chop the vegetables, herbs and green onions as indicated above. Be sure to place the tomatoes in a colander to drain excess juice.
- Place the chopped vegetables, herbs and green onions in a mixing bowl or dish. Add the bulgur and season with salt. Mix gently.
- Now add the the lime juice and olive oil and mix again.
- For best results, cover the tabouli and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. If you like, serve the tabouli with a side of pita and romaine lettuce leaves, which act as wraps or "boats" for the tabouli.
- Other appetizers to serve next to tabouli salad:Hummus; Baba Ganoush; or Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
To serve a smaller crowd, simply cut the recipe in half.
You can keep tabouli refrigerated in a tight-lid container for 2 days or so. It’s important to try and drain some of the juice out before refrigerating leftover tabouli.