Summer is officially here, which means BBQs, picnics, and outdoor gatherings galore. This also means that it's the perfect time to bust out some of your favorite salads for sharing. And this Authentic Tabbouleh Salad Recipe, a Traditional Lebanese salad with parsley, is definitely one of my faves! It's light, refreshing, and perfect for satisfying any palate. So read on for the how-to on making this deliciousness yourself!
This Tabbouleh Salad is a Lebanese salad with parsley that is fresh, tangy, light, and full of flavor.
The ingredients are easy to get and are put together in minutes. A true Summer Recipe Winner!
This Tabbouleh Salad Recipe (or Tabouli salad) is a Middle Eastern year-round salad and a staple of Lebanese food. We often have falafel nights, which always includes this fresh dish. But during summertime, we make it countless times, as it is the kind of light salad that we munch for brunch or as a takeaway for a beach day.
This tabbouleh recipe was inspired by the Feel Good Foodie Blog, and I made a couple of changes to adjust to our liking. It pairs well with all Middle-Eastern and Lebanese recipes.
We love having this tabouli recipe with Crispy Falafels, Homemade Hummus (or Pumpkin Hummus), Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip (Muhammara), and Silky Eggplant Babaganoush available on this site for an entire middle eastern inspired dinner or brunch.
If you feel more adventurous, you can also serve it with this pink beet hummus, which is absolutely delicious and put together in less than ten minutes.
Below are the Tabbouleh ingredients to make it perfect
- Curly Parsley (Flat leaf parsley also works)
- Extra fine bulgur wheat (coarse also works, as well as Couscous, but is not traditional)
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (good quality makes a difference)
- Firm plum tomatoes
- Green onions (green part)
- Fresh mint
- Cucumber (optional, but not traditional)
See the recipe card for quantities.
Soak the fine bulgur wheat
Mix the extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and burghul wheat and let it soak while continuing with the rest. This way, you will save some time and let the wheat absorb all the flavors.
Core the plum tomatoes, then deseed and finely chop them in small dice.
Chop green onions
Chop the green tops from the green onions and leave them soaking in water to make their flavor less intense.
Prepare cucumber (optional)
Cucumber is not part of the traditional recipe, but sometimes I like to add it.
It gives an extra fresh note and volume. Make sure you only keep the tough parts and remove the seeds from both tomatoes and cucumbers.
peel cucumber with a potato peeler
deseed the cucumber
clean thew cucumber
cut into small dice
Remove excess juices from veggies
After you chop tabouli ingredients, you need to salt them and place them in a colander to remove the excess moisture.
Hint: mixing the tomato [and cucumber] with a pinch of salt will help to extract the cucumber and tomato juice. Use a colander to drain the excess water.
Chop herbs (parsley-mint)
remove parsley and mint stems and chop the parsley and mint together
to save time; you may choose to blend the bunches of parsley and mint in a food processor
If you use a food processor to accelerate the process, keep in mind that it may make the green mix a little watery, and you will need to pass it through a colander or a salad spinner to get rid of the excess juice. Otherwise, your salad recipe can turn out soggy and miss the right tabouli texture.
Mix tabouli salad ingredients
Gather all your ready-to-mix ingredients.
Combine chopped tomatoes, cucumber, and green onions with the bulgur wheat mixture in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly, and season with salt and pepper or ground allspice.
Your tabouli recipe is ready!
This Lebanese salad with parsley and mint is packed with flavor and tastes just as good.
Traditional Lebanese tabouleh is made with curly parsley, but Italian parsley works well too. I have also tried using arugula in place of half of the parsley. Since arugula has a peppery fresh flavor that can emulate parsley to a certain extent.
To make it entirely traditional Lebanese, omit the cucumber.
Bulgur wheat (cracked wheat)
If you only find coarse burghul, you can use it, but you will need to add ¼ cup of boiling water to the olive oil and lemon juice mix, so it softens enough. Allow extra 10 mins to soak. Test for hardness before mixing with the green and veggies.
You can use couscous if you can't find bulgur wheat, although it wouldn't be traditional. Just add two parts of boiling water for every part of the couscous and soak it for 15 minutes, along with the olive oil and lemon juice. Cooked quinoa is another common replacement for bulgar wheat to make tabbouleh recipes gluten-free.
Fresh mint leaves
Some people omit the fresh mint, which is completely fine, but I think it is a true differentiator. In my opinion, that would take away a lot of this tabouli salad's freshness.
Try to get your hands around some good quality extra-virgin olive oil. It will make all the difference. I wouldn't use any other kind of oil on an authentic tabouli recipe.
It is hard to find lemons in some countries, and limes are more common; go for it! The taste will change with lime juice, but the acidity we are looking for will be there. Just make sure to use half of the amount of lemon juice as limes are more acid.
The parsley/tomato ratio should be noticeable, don't overdo the tomatoes and/or cucumber since the flavor profile may vary substantially. The parsley is the king here!
You could add more burghul if you like, but the traditional Tabbouleh Salad only has a tiny amount. Sometimes, when I feel like having a little bit more carbs in my salad, I go crazy and double or triple the amount of burghul or couscous, which will also increase the volume.
This comes in handy if you are catering to many people.
Add chili pepper flakes.
If you like more robust onion flavors, you could also use the white parts of the green onion and/or add a minced garlic clove.
You could also use finely chopped sweet onion or red onion.
On the contrary, as suggested above, you could place the chopped green tops and soak them in water before adding them to the mix. This will make the flavor less intense.
At times, I like using coarse burghul wheat on my tabouli salad, so when I have extra 10 mins, I use that one, which is also easier to find. The texture of coarse burghul sort of "bite you back." And I love textures!
Try adding almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds on top right before serving. This will add some rich, healthy fatty oils to your dish.
Add extra burghul wheat (or couscous); the parsley flavor is less prominent. You can add riced cauliflower or cooked tiny pasta.
You could also add romaine lettuce leaves to reduce the intensity of flavors.
Simple equipment here; you need a cutting board, a colander, and a good knife. Add a peeler if using the cucumber.
If you want to save some time or just dislike too much chopping, you can use a food processor to finely chop the parsley together with the mint leaves.
This tabouli salad stands well in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
Actually, we love next-day Tabbouleh, as the flavors are more consolidated.
The ingredients of this Lebanese salad with parsley don't stand up well to freezing, as parsley tends to get mushy.
Only use fresh ingredients.
Make sure to remove any excess juice from both the tomatoes, cucumber, and chopped greens. The salad should not be soggy.
You could make this fine bulgur salad the day before or a couple of hours before serving, completely settling the flavors.
More healthy salads
Couscous Warm Salad with sprouted lentils
More Middle-Eastern Recipes
How to use cucumbers?
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag a photo #ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Authentic Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad Recipe
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil omit if adhering to a WFPB diet
- ⅓ cup fine bulghur wheat sometimes called #1, or use couscous
- 2 lemons juiced
- 2 bunches parsley about 2 cups chopped
- 2 plum tomatoes ripe, firm and deseeded
- 1 green onion green part
- 1 cup fresh mint about 15 leaves
- ¾ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cucumber deseeded and coarsely chopped
- Prepare bulgur wheat. Mix the olive oil and lemon in a bowl and add the burghul wheat. Let it soak for 15 minutes.
- Chop green onions. Finely slice the tops of the green onions and save the whites for another recipe. Optionally soak in 1 cup of water while you continue to make the flavor less pungent.
- Prepare tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes in quarters and deseed. Remove the watery content. Finely dice the firm part.
- Chop cucumber. If using cucumber, roughly peel it, leaving some of the green peals on. Slice it lengthwise and with the tip of a spoon, remove all the seeds. Coarsely chop the two halves into small dice.
- Mix ingredients. Mix the tomato [and cucumber] and add a pinch of salt. The salt will help to remove the excess water.
- Prepare freh herbs. Remove the parsley and mint stems and finely chop the leaves together. Or chop them in a food processor.
- Remove excess juices. Using a colander, strain the chopped diced tomatoes [and cucumber] from the excess water and the green onions slices.
- Mix everything and season in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add a little more lemon.
- Parsley: traditional Lebanese tabouleh is made with curly parsley, but Italian parsley works well too.
- Cucumber: to make it entirely traditional Lebanese, omit the cucumber.
- Burghul: if you only find coarse burghul, you can use it, but you will need to add ¼ cup of boiling water to the olive oil and lemon juice mix so it softens enough. Allow extra 10 mins to soak. Test for hardness before mixing with the green and veggies.
- Couscous: You can use couscous if you can't find burghul wheat, although it wouldn't be traditional. Just add two parts of boiling water for every part of the couscous and soak it for 15 minutes, along with the olive oil and lemon juice.
- Mint: some people omit the mint, which is completely fine, but I think it is a true differentiator. In my opinion, that would take away a lot of this salad's freshness.
- Lemons: in some countries is hard to find lemons, and limes are more common. Go for it! The taste will change, but the acidity we are looking for will be there.
- Tomatoes: the parsley/tomato ratio should be noticeable, don't overdo the tomatoes and/or cucumber since the flavor profile may vary substantially. The parsley is the king here!
We sometimes take for granted that we have years (or decades) of cooking experience that the average visitor may not. Add to, or remove from, the list below with health and safety tips.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking points to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
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