Traditional recipes

What's Great About Tabbouleh

What's Great About Tabbouleh

Just finished a tabbouleh salad for lunch, with parsley in my teeth to prove it. It's one of my favorite warm-weather salads, light yet substantial, lemon-tangy, with satisfying chewy-crunchy textures. Traditionally, the base of the salad is parsley mixed with bulgur, a quick-cooking wheat. But if you're looking to up your whole grain intake, you should know that tabbouleh works wonderfully with grains of all sorts, from farro and wheatberries to spelt and freekeh. I'm partial to using chewier grains in this dish, but even something like quinoa would work, and deliver an ample dose of protein as well.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Get started with a great base recipe. And don't skimp on the parsley -- but remember the toothpicks for later.

Tabouleh Recipe - Middle Eastern Parsley Salad

Published: July 14, 2018 • Modified: March 8, 2021 • by Author: Analida • Word count:617 words. • About 4 minutes to read this article.

Tabouleh is a refreshing and nutritious Middle Eastern dish. Tabouleh's main ingredient is bulgur wheat, an ancient grain dating back to 2800 B.C.

It was once considered a sacred food due to its resistance to insect attack or spoilage. There are also biblical references of bulgur regarding the Babylonians and the Hittites.

As a dish, tabouleh is high in fiber, lycopene and good carbohydrates(is there a bad carb? just kidding.) There are multiple variations of tabouleh, my personal favorite is the one below. This one contains mint that I rescued from my garden.

I know I say this about every recipe on this blog, but tabouleh is easy to make. If you can boil water and chop veggies, you are good to go! You can also watch my step-by-step video if you're unsure.

How to make a gluten free rice salad recipe

So what rice do you want to use when making this Gluten Free Tabbouleh Recipe? I chose jasmine rice for it’s nutty aroma and buttery flavor.

Jasmine rice is a delicious, gluten free substitute for the bulgur (cracked wheat) that’s typically used in traditional tabbouleh recipes.

So what’s the difference between jasmine and basmati rice? Here's a graphic that illustrates the differences between the two.

You can use either in this simple tabbouleh recipe, though I found that jasmine rice was less expensive than basmati rice when I was shopping for rice and other tabbouleh salad ingredients at my local store.

These are the main ingredients in Tabbouleh:

  • Bulgur wheat - Bulgur is whole grain cracked wheat. It's not the same as couscous, which is a tiny pasta made out of semolina flour. In tabbouleh salad, bulgur wheat is soaked in hot water, until tender. There are different varieties of bulgur wheat, that range from very fine (#1) to coarse. Traditionally, tabbouleh is made with Fine bulgur wheat that is available online or in Middle Eastern markets. If you can't find fine bulgur, you can use coarse (such as Bob's Red Mill Bulgur Wheat), which can be found in regular supermarkets.
  • Tomatoes - fresh summer tomatoes are the best for tabbouleh. During the winter months, you can still enjoy this Lebanese salad by using red, yellow, and orange grape tomatoes.
  • Parsley - a lot of fresh Italian parsley is chopped for this salad. Don't skimp here! The parsley is the star of the show—its peppery, earthy flavor is the cornerstone of the dish. The parsley can be chopped by hand, but we prefer to use the food processor for ease and to get those fine pieces.
  • Scallions - fresh scallions are sliced for this salad. If you don't have fresh scallions, you can use finely chopped onions.
  • Mint - mint is optional, but it gives tabouli a very nice flavor! I highly recommend you add it.

Lemon Dressing for White Bean Tabbouleh Salad

And here’s what goes in my go-to Lemon Dressing which has made an appearance in many main course and side salad recipes I’ve shared over the years, including the recent Brown Rice Salad:

Ordinarily, Tabbouleh is soaked in lemon juice then a touch of olive oil is later added to take the sharp edge off the lemon.

But for this recipe, I’m making a proper Lemon Dressing for this recipe because I want the dressing to be thicker so it clings to the white beans. In order to achieve this, the Dressing needs to be properly thickened by shaking it vigorously in a jar, plus I also add a touch of Dijon Mustard which thickens it even more.

Word Dancing!

HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE TABBOULEH? Tabbouleh is one of those words you hear pronounced different ways. I’ve always pronounced it [ta-BOO-lee] but am working on a more authentic pronounciation, [TA-boo-lay]. Then again, Merriam-Webster says it’s pronounced [ta-BOO-la], rhymes with Missoula.

How you do you pronounce tabbouleh? Extra points if you share this information between bites of Tabbouleh Salad!

HOW DO YOU SPELL TABBOULEH? Okay so it seems that the most consistent way to spell tabbouleh comes from Arabic and is just that, double b, single l. But there’s also tabouleh (single b, single l) and tabouli or tabbouli – or my favorite, the phonetic spelling, tabooli!

Cauliflower "Rice" Tabbouleh

Some people may prefer a low-carb version of our featured dish. In this recipe, cauliflower is "riced" (pulverized with a food processor to tiny rice grain-sized bits). Cauliflower tabbouleh salad is gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and lower in calories.

Had such a tasty dinner! Chickpea tabbouleh bowl…

I’ve paused our Hello Fresh for the time being because SO many of their recipes have garlic or onion, which seem to be highly problematic for me. We had one meal left to cook though, and it was the chickpea tabbouleh bowls and y’all, it tasted JUST like it was supposed to! I asked my Ma to omit the harissa on my portion just to be safe - I wasn’t there while she was making it so I couldn’t smell it - and she didn’t put the scallions in. But even without the extra spice, it was delicious!

I’ve only been dealing with parosmia a VERY short time, so it’s entirely possible I might develop additional distortions in the coming days, but right now the really terrible ones seem to be chicken, onion, garlic, peanut butter, and mint. I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones I’ve got sure identified. This meal contained zero of those things and was very tasty! Fingers crossed I can continue to eat this going forward!

Tabbouleh recipe

Learn how to make this classic Tabbouleh following our simple step-by-step recipe.

This tabbouleh recipe is so easy to make at home. Its a delicious side dish and can be made in only 15 minutes. This recipe serves 2 people but if you’d like to make more, all you have to do is double up the ingredients.


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I find myself living in a Potemkin village, my cookbooks — clutter! — hidden away, my stand mixer — clutter! — stashed in the hutch, my pots, pans, utensils, teapot — clutter! — boxed up in the garage. Staged by the realtors, our house has never looked cleaner, prettier, or more color coordinated. It also has never been more unlivable.

Even so, today I discovered that with little more than a knife, a cutting board, and a large bowl, a beautiful whole grain salad can materialize in no time. Determined not to eat takeout for the fourth night in a row, I made a big bowl of tabbouleh, a dish my mother made for us all summer long for as long as I can remember, a dish that feels at once light, satisfying and nourishing. With some warm pita and a block of feta, dinner was served.

Unlike many grains, bulgur requires nothing more than cold water — yes, cold! — to fluff up and become edible. You can’t mess it up. There are no grain-to-water ratios to remember there are no cooking times to adhere to. After an hour of soaking, the cold water is drained and the bulgur is ready to be dressed in olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper.

I should note that this tabbouleh is not a traditional Lebanese tabbouleh in which parsley is the star and bulgur an accent. In this salad, the bulgur plays as much of a role as the cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, scallions and herbs (parsley, chives and mint). Here, too, I’ve used extra-coarse bulgur (found at Greek, Middle Eastern and whole food markets), which is chewier than fine bulgur, tasting more like barley or farro than couscous or quinoa. Of course, any kind of bulgur can be used.

In this season of bbqs and potlucks when side dishes are always welcomed whether advertised or not, nothing could make a host happier. This tabbouleh is light and lemony, complementing anything from hot dogs to grilled vegetable kabobs, a dish enjoyed by meat eaters and vegans alike. What’s more, this bright and colorful salad is as delicious as it appears… if only our house could be the same. Fingers crossed for a quick sell. I miss my kitchen.

After a one-hour soak in cold water, the bulgur is ready to be drained:

If you like whole grain salads, you might like this quinoa salad and either of these farro salads.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 4 plum tomatoes, finely chopped, with their juice
  • 1 3/4 cups finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 2 medium bunches)
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint

Soak bulgur in cold water 10 minutes. Drain in a sieve lined with damp cheesecloth squeeze out all water. Transfer to a serving bowl fluff with a fork.

Stir in tomatoes with juice, parsley, and scallions. Add lemon juice, salt, and oil season with pepper. Toss to coat. Just before serving, stir in mint.