Whenever it's time for gatherings and shared meals, a standout dish to consider is the Lebanese salad with parsley (Tabbouleh). This dish is a top pick for its light, refreshing qualities, perfect for pleasing any palate. Dive into the steps below to learn how to create this delightful salad yourself!
The ingredients are easy to get and are put together in minutes. A true vegan Summer Recipe Winner!
This 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.
We love having this tabouli recipe with homemade Fried Falafel Recipe, Homemade Hummus, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip (Muhammara), and Silky Eggplant Babaganoush available on this site for an entire Middle-inspired dinner or brunch.
💚 Why You Will Love It
- Fresh Flavor Burst
- Healthy & Nutritious
- Easy to Prepare
- Versatile Side Dish
- Flavorful Leftovers
Below are the Tabbouleh ingredients to make it perfect
- Curly Parsley: The star of the dish, curly parsley brings a fresh, slightly peppery taste and is packed with vitamins, though flat-leaf can also be used for a slightly different texture and a more intense flavor.
- Extra Fine Bulgur Wheat: This traditional grain adds a subtle, nutty flavor and a delightful chewiness to the salad; coarse bulgur or couscous can stand in, but the texture will vary.
- Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice: Its zesty tang enlivens the other ingredients, contributing to the salad's overall freshness and aiding in the absorption of iron from the parsley.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Quality matters here as the rich, fruity flavor of a good olive oil binds all the ingredients together and adds a smooth mouthfeel.
- Firm Plum Tomatoes: They provide a juicy, acidic contrast to the grains and herbs, and their firmness helps maintain the salad's texture.
- Green Onions: The green parts add a mild, crunchy bite that complements the bright herbs and lemon juice.
- Fresh Mint: It offers a cool, refreshing undertone that is essential to the salad's signature flavor profile.
- Cucumber: While not traditional, it can be included for an extra crunch and hydration, but its addition is a modern twist on the classic recipe.
See the recipe card for quantities.
- Fresh parsley: 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.
- Cucumber: To make it entirely traditional Lebanese, omit the cucumber. If you love cucumbers, try our spicy Korean cucumber salad, a great side dish for any meal.
- 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 an extra 10 minutes to soak. Test for hardness before mixing with the greens and veggies.
- Fresh mint leaves: Some people omit 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.
- Lemons: 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 acidic.
- 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!
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 dislike chopping too much, you can use a food processor to chop the parsley together with the mint leaves.
Step 1: Soak the fine bulgur wheat by mixing the extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and burghul wheat, and let it soak while continuing with the rest. This way, you will save time and let the grain absorb all the flavors.
Step 3: Chop the green tops from the green onions and leave them soaking in water to make their flavor less intense.
Step 4: 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.
Step 5: remove the cucumber's seeds with a teaspoon.
Step 6: Cut seedless cucumber flesh into small dice.
Step 7: After you chop the tabbouleh ingredients, you need to salt them and place them in a colander to remove the excess moisture.
Step 8: Remove parsley and mint stems and chop them together. To save time, you may blend the bunches of parsley and mint in a food processor.
Hint: 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.
Step 9: In a large bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, cucumber, and green onions with the bulgur wheat mixture.
Step 10: Mix thoroughly and season with salt and pepper or ground allspice.
💡 Expert tips
Prioritize Freshness: The key to a vibrant tabbouleh is using only fresh ingredients. Fresh parsley, ripe tomatoes, and crisp cucumbers are non-negotiable for that burst of natural flavor.
Avoid Sogginess: Be diligent in removing excess juice from tomatoes and cucumbers. Also, give your chopped greens a gentle squeeze. A dry tabbouleh is a delightful tabbouleh!
Flavor Fusion: Preparing your bulgur salad a day ahead or a few hours before serving allows the flavors to meld beautifully. This waiting period transforms a good tabbouleh into a great one.
Bulgur Texture: Opt for fine bulgur for a more authentic texture. It should be light and fluffy, not mushy. Remember, bulgur expands, so a little goes a long way.
Lemon Love: A generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice can elevate your tabbouleh. It adds a zesty freshness that complements the herbs beautifully.
Olive Oil Quality: A good quality olive oil makes a difference. It binds the ingredients together and adds a smooth, rich flavor.
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.
Spicy: Add chili pepper flakes.
Flavor Strength: 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.
More textures: At times, I like using coarse burghul wheat on my tabouli salad, so when I have an extra 10 minutes, I use that one, which is also easier to find. The texture of coarse burghul sort of "bites you back." And I love textures!
You can also add almonds, walnuts, or sunflower seeds on top right before serving. This will add some rich, healthy, fatty oils to your dish.
Protein Twist: one of our favorite twists is tossing in chickpeas, turning this dish into a delightful balela salad. This Lebanese classic shares many ingredients with tabouleh but gets a fabulous upgrade with these protein-packed legumes, giving your salad an extra protein punch.
You can also create a similar dish with lentils. Our green lentil tabbouleh salad is just as tasty and serves as a complete meal in itself.
Kids-friendly: 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.
🥢 How to serve
Tabbouleh is a versatile dish that complements a variety of accompaniments. Here are some delightful ways to serve it:
With Dips: Pair it with creamy hummus or baba ganoush for a delightful Mediterranean spread. Dipping pita bread into these dips and then scooping up some tabbouleh creates a perfect bite.
Bread Pairing: Serve alongside warm, fluffy pita bread or crispy pita chips. These bread options offer a delightful texture contrast to the fresh crunch of tabbouleh.
Vegan Grills: It's a refreshing side dish for your favorite vegan grills, like marinated tofu steaks, grilled veggie skewers, or vegan sausages. The lightness of tabbouleh balances the smoky flavors of grilled foods beautifully.
Stuffing: Use tabbouleh as a stuffing for bell peppers or vine leaves for a creative and satisfying meal.
Wrap It Up: Incorporate it into wraps or vegan gyros for a nutritious and filling lunch option.
Salad Bowls: Add it to a salad bowl with other ingredients like quinoa, avocado, and roasted vegetables for a hearty and healthy meal.
As a Bed: Serve it as a bed for falafel or vegan kebabs, allowing the flavors to mingle and enhance each other.
Absolutely, you can freeze tabbouleh! While it's traditionally enjoyed fresh, freezing can be a practical way to extend its shelf life. However, keep in mind that the texture of the herbs and vegetables may change once thawed, becoming a bit softer than in their fresh state.
If you decide to freeze your tabbouleh, here’s a quick guide to help you retain as much of its original flavor and texture as possible:
Prep & Portion: Divide the tabbouleh into portion-sized airtight containers or zip-lock bags. This way, you only thaw what you need, maintaining the rest in its frozen state for later use.
Label: Tag your containers or bags with the date, so you can keep track of how long they've been in the freezer.
Thawing: When you're ready to enjoy your tabbouleh, move it to the refrigerator to thaw slowly, ideally overnight. Avoid thawing at room temperature, as this can cause the ingredients to deteriorate faster.
Revitalize: After thawing, the tabbouleh might need a little refresh. Give it a good stir, maybe add a splash of lemon juice or a drizzle of olive oil to brighten it up before serving.
Remember, the sooner you consume your frozen tabbouleh after thawing, the better it will taste. It’s best enjoyed within a day or two for optimal flavor.
This tabouli salad stands well in the refrigerator and is 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.
🥗 More healthy salads
🇱🇧 More Middle-Eastern Recipes
Try out our Traditional Hummus Recipe, Eggplant Babaganoush, Muhammara Dip, spiced onions, or other yummy versions of hummus such as our roasted pumpkin hummus, roasted pepper hummus, or beetroot hummus.
Don't forget to check out our simple Lebanese seven spices to make stuffed zucchini or any stew taste like an authentic Lebanese dish!
⭐ If you try this recipe, let us know! 💬 Leave a comment, rate it, and don't forget to tag us @ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Lebanese Salad with Parsley (Authentic Tabbouleh)
- ⅓ cup olive oil extra virgin, omit if adhering to a WFPB diet
- ⅓ cup bulghur wheat fine, sometimes called #1, or use couscous
- 2 lemon juiced
- 2 bunch parsley about 2 cups chopped
- 2 tomatoes plum, ripe, firm and deseeded
- 1 green onion green part
- 1 cup mint fresh, 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!
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice. See our full Nutritional Disclosure here.
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