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Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad

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This traditional Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad recipe is a healthy vegan Mediterranean appetizer made with bulgur, parsley, mint and chopped vegetables.

  • Author: Yumna Jawad
  • Posted:

Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad

You say tabouli salad, I say tabbouleh salad. Who actually knows the real way to spell it in English haha! But anyone who’s tried Tabbouleh Salad knows what a fresh, delightful and tasty salad it is! Along with fattoush salad, it’s the top salad served in Lebanon, where my parents are from. So, as you can imagine, I’ve grown up eating a lot of tabbouleh in my life. And I’ve grown to learn how to make the best tabbouleh recipe!

Final plated bowl of tabbouleh salad garnished with lemon slices

What is tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is basically parsley salad. There’s technically no lettuce in it. It’s a salad made up of parsley, tomatoes, bulgur wheat, and green onions – all finely chopped and tossed with olive oil and lemon juice!

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Tabbouleh salad (tabouli salad) is probably the most popular Mediterranean salad, and is becoming mainstream in American grocery stores all over the country and the world, which is super cool! One thing that I’ve noticed though is that in the states, tabbouleh tends to have more bulgur than the traditional recipe calls for. The way we prepare it in Lebanon, the salad should be all about the parsley, with a hint of bulgur thrown in there.

What do you need to make tabbouleh

  • Parsley – It’s a parsley salad so this is the star of the recipe. Make sure to wash the parsley with cold water so it doesn’t wilt and dry it thoroughly with a salad spinner. If you prep the parsley a day in advance, it allows the herb to full dry well for the salad.
  • Tomatoes – Get some fresh and ripe tomatoes, and if they are too juicy, you can remove their core before dicing.
  • Green onions – You’ll use the entire green onion parts from the white to the green. This will give it a subtle taste of onions while blending well with the parsley.
  • Bulgur – Use fine bulgur – the smallest you can find! Bulgur is sold is four numbered grind sizes. You want to look for #1 which is the smallest grind. It will resemble couscous and it’s what we use in traditional tabbouleh.
  • Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed please. 🙂
  • Olive Oil – Go for high quality extra virgin olive oil. You’ll notice the taste difference!
Large bowl or parsley, small bowl of tomatoes, small bowl of green onions and small bowl of olive oil/lemon juice/bulgur mixture

How do you make tabbouleh

I like to start making the tabouleh by mixing the dressing. It’s made up of two ingredients: olive oil and lemon juice – easy enough! I whisk those together until well blended, and then let the flavor settle while I chop the vegetables.

One important tip I learned though from my mother-in-law is to add the bulgur to the dressing while preparing the vegetables. This allows the bulgur to absorb some of the liquid and soften – making it easier to chew it in the salad. I used to soak it in water, but I prefer this method because there’s no risk of watering down the flavor. You’ll slowly start to see the bulgur get more plump.

Collage of two images showing the ingredients getting mixed

While the bulgur is soaking, prepare yourself for some mad chopping. Tabbouleh requires a lot of chopping – it’s really a labor of love. That includes a bunch (well technically 2 bunches) of parsley, tomatoes and green onions. Some people use a food processor to chop the parsley. But I find that it can sometimes lead to wilted chopped parsley. So I always use a large chef knife, and it does the trick.

When you’re done chopping, transfer the bulgur and dressing mixture over the chopped vegetables and gently mix everything together. And that’s basically the tabbouleh salad recipe! And it might be the best tabbouleh recipe you’ll ever have!

Large bowl of all the ingredients before getting mixed

How do you serve tabbouleh

You can enjoy this on its own with a side of protein as a meal, or eat it as an appetizer. We usually serve this with lettuce in Lebanon. And we like to add a large scoop of the salad into a lettuce leaf and eat it with our hands. So sometimes, when I’m serving this for a crowd, I’ll leave out the lettuce leaves ready for serving.

And other times I just stuff the tabbouleh salad right in the lettuce because I love the presentation of a hand held salad. It’s fresh, flavorful and very healthy. And even though this looks like a very summery salad, it’s very popular around the holidays in the winter because it’s such a crowd pleasing appetizer.

Close up of tabouli salad

Tips to make the best tabbouleh recipe

  1. Fine Chopping: Show off your chopping skills here by finely chopping all the vegetables. It’s tedious, but the presentation is everything, and you’ll get better at it with practice. Avoid using a food processor, especially for the parsley, which can wilt the parsley and ruin the texture of the salad.
  2. Fine Bulgur: In fact, it should be extra fine bulgur to be precise. The focus of the salad is on the parsley, not the bulgur, so you want fine bulgur that incorporates easily into the salad without standing out.
  3. Fine Tomatoes: You want them to be ripe for flavor’s sake, but firm so they don’t release too much juice. What I like doing is coring the tomatoes to remove the juicy interior and use that for another salad recipe. You can also just use a mesh colander to drain the liquids from chopped tomatoes.
Big bowl of Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad

I love making this tabbouleh salad once a month with a bunch of other Lebanese appetizers like grape leaves, hummus and falafel. That’s how it’s traditionally served in Lebanon – as part of a “Mezza” (aka appetizer galore!) that literally includes dozens of different hot and cold appetizers all served at once. It’s a foodie’s true dream!

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feelgood Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

This blog post first appeared on Feel Good Foodie on December 13, 2016.  I am updating it today to include improved new step-by-step images.

For more Lebanese salads, check out:

5 from 2 votes
Big bowl of Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad
Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad
Prep Time
40 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

This traditional Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad recipe is a healthy vegan Mediterranean appetizer made with bulgur, parsley, mint and chopped vegetables.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Meditteranean
Keyword: arabic, Lebanese, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 114 kcal
Author: Yumna Jawad
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra fine bulgur wheat
  • 2 bunches parsley about 2 cups chopped
  • 1-2 vine-ripe firm tomatoes
  • 2 green onions both green and white part
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and lemon juice until well combined. Then add the bulgur to the dressing and let it soak until it is soft and plumped, about 15 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables by washing, drying thoroughly and finely chopping them. When preparing the tomatoes, it helps to use a colander to drain the excess juice, which you can use in another recipe at a later time.

  3. Place the chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Then pour the bulgur and dressing mixture over. Gently toss to combine. 

  4. Serve at room temperature or cold, with lettuce if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days in the fridge.

Make Ahead Tips: I would highly recommend washing and drying the parsley a day or two days in advance of chopping it. This gives the parsley time to dry properly so that when you chop it, it doesn't turn into a wet mess.

Sourcing: You can find the bulgur at Middle Eastern markets, natural-foods stores or even in large supermarkets, often located with other Middle Eastern ingredients.

Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. If you want to make this grain-free, you can substitute the bulgur for quinoa or even riced cauliflower.

Nutrition: Please note that the nutrition label provided is an estimate only. It will vary based on the specific ingredients used. The recipe is estimated for 6 servings.

Nutrition Facts
Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 114 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Sodium 14mg 1%
Potassium 209mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 1g
Protein 1g 2%
Vitamin A 37.8%
Vitamin C 40.4%
Calcium 3.8%
Iron 8.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
This traditional Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad recipe is a healthy vegan Mediterranean appetizer made with bulgur, parsley, mint and chopped vegetables. | Lebanese Recipes | Healthy Salad | Healthy Appetizers | #salad #tabbouleh #healthyrecipes #feelgoodfoodie

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