This traditional tabouli salad recipe (also spelled tabbouleh or tabouleh) is made with bulgar (cracked wheat) parsley, fresh tomatoes and scallions and tossed in a Mediterranean lemon and mint dressing. This is THE BEST Lebanese tabouli salad recipe out there.Jump to Recipe
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So what is tabouli? Tabouli salad (also spelled tabbouleh and tabbouli) is a traditional Lebanese salad made with parsley and cracked wheat or bulgur and topped with a lemon mint dressing. This Arabic salad originated in Lebanon and is served regularly as part of the mezze, or many small dishes that are served.
This easy tabouli recipe will forever be in your repertoire after making it. It requires some chopping and tossing of the salad, but it is worth it!
The ingredients for this Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad are:
- parsley (I use curly parsley, but many recipes call for flat leaf parsley)
- cracked wheat or bulgur (more about that below)
- green onions
- romaine lettuce or head iceberg lettuce for serving (optional)
- garlic powder
- extra virgin olive oil
What is bulgur (aka cracked wheat)
Bulgur, also known as burghul depending on the brand, is what is known as "cracked wheat." They are cracked whole-grain kernels that are parboiled and then dried. Because they are already parboiled or cooked, they can be prepared much faster than other whole grains.
Where to buy bulgur or cracked wheat
Cracked wheat can be found at any Mediterranean or Middle Eastern store, since it is used in many different Arabic dishes. You can also buy bulgur online as well and it is rather inexpensive. Check out the link below:
There are different kinds of bulgur and it is important to buy the correct kind, for whatever dish you are using.
Differences between the different types of bulgur:
Cracked wheat, or bulgur is sold by number and color. Bulgur #1 is considered "fine bulgur" and is used in different Lebanese dishes or salads like tabouli and kibbeh. Cracked wheat goes all the way up to #4 and gets coarser with each number. All of these different bulgurs can be bought as yellow bulgur.
There is also red bulgur that is very fine and some people like to use it in Kibbeh Nayeh (a famous Lebanese raw meat dish).
For this particular authentic Lebanese tabbouleh recipe I ALWAYS buy yellow fine bulgur #1.
Is bulgur heathy?
YES! Bulgur is a very healthy whole grain that is full of fiber even boasting possible heart benefits. To read more about the healthy benefits of bulgur check out this article in Healthline.
Is Bulgur healthier than rice?
Since is it packed full of minerals and vitamins, most nutritionists agree that bulgur is healthier than rice.
How to prepare bulgur
As I stated above, bulgur is already parboiled and we will not actually be learning how to cook bulgur wheat. In fact, we don't have to cook bulgur at all, all we need to do is to soak the bulgur in water.
Put ¾ cup of bulgur in a measuring cup. Fill water to slightly above the 1 cup mark of the measuring cup and let it soak (See the picture below). The bulgur MUST be soaked or else you will have crunchy cracked wheat in your salad. You don't want it crunchy. The water to bulgur ratio is about 1:1, there may be slightly more water than cracker wheat.
Next pull the parsley off of the stems and let it soak in a mixing bowl with water. Parsley is normally grown in very sandy soil and the sand can get into the parsley without you even seeing it. It needs to be soaked in order to get the sand out of it. You will be surprised how much dirt and sand will be at the bottom of the bowl after soaking.
In the meantime, it's time to start chopping the ingredients for the salad.
Chop the tomatoes into small, bite-size pieces. Chop the green onions and add these to the bowl with the shredded lettuce.
A NOTE ABOUT LETTUCE! Many traditional tabouli recipes do not call for lettuce. Some do. Sometimes the tabouli is made without lettuce, but it is served in romaine leaves or on lettuce leaves as part of the mezze. I personally like to put the lettuce inside of my tabbouleh salad.
Remove the parsley from the bowl of water and spin it in a salad spinner. Give the parsley a rough chop and add it into the bowl. By this time the bulgur should be sufficiently soaked. It will have expanded and soaked up all the water.
Now it's time to add the bulgur to the rest of the chopped salad. Give it a toss before adding the dressing.
For the Tabbouleh dressing
Add all of the dry spices to the top of the salad. If you use fresh mint, you will have to use about ⅓ of a cup. After adding the spices it's time to add the lemon juice.
What I am about to tell you is of utmost importance!!!!!!!!!! You MUST MUST MUST add the lemon juice BEFORE adding the olive oil. If you add the olive oil first you will ruin your salad. The olive oil will adhere to the salad and not allow the lemon juice to be part of the salad. You will end up with oily salad with lemon juice at the bottom if you do this in the wrong order. So ADD THE LEMON JUICE FIRST!!! After adding the lemon juice, toss it altogether. After it is thoroughly tossed you can add the olive oil and toss again. Serve immediately and enjoy!!
How do you eat tabouli?
Tabouli is eaten cold. It can be served by itself or accompanied by a meat or main dish. I love to eat Hummus and tabouli sandwiches on homemade pita bread. I also like to fill up my falafel wraps with fresh tabouli salad as well. Click those links to check out those other amazing recipes.
Pretty much all recipes for tabbouleh salad call for cracked wheat, or bulgar wheat. If you need to make this recipe gluten free, you can substituted cooked quinoa, however this will change the texture and flavor somewhat.
Is Tabouli healthy?
There are many health benefits of tabbouleh. Lebanese tabouli is a very healthy salad that is packed full of antioxidant rich foods like parsley and full of fiber rich bulgur which is a healthy whole grain. The olive oil and lemon dressing is also full of heart healthy benefits on it's own: extra virgin olive oil being an extremely beneficial monosaturated fat that has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties.
Another popular Lebanese salad is called Fattoush, and it is similar to Tabbouleh but made with fried pita chips instead of bulgur wheat. If you are looking for a gluten free Middle Eastern salad, check out this Persian Shirazi Salad Recipe.
For those who are not familiar with Middle Eastern and Lebanese food (you can read more about it by clicking that link), it really is so tasty and fresh, not to mention VERY healthy and good for you! Tabbouleh is a salad made with fresh parsley, green onions and cracked wheat, with an amazing lemony-minty dressing. It is the perfect blend of flavors and textures that will change your life.
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- 2 bunches Parsley
- 6-7 Green Onions (Scallions)
- 1 8 oz package Shredded Iceberg Lettuce *see note below
- 3-4 Small Tomatoes
- ¾ cup Bulgur #1 (Cracked Wheat)
- 1 Lemon
- 1 tablespoon Dried Mint (or 3 cup fresh mint leaves chopped)
- 1 teas Garlic Powder
- 1 teas Salt
- ½ teas Black Pepper
- ⅓ cup Olive Oil extra virgin
- Place bulgur in a measuring cup and fill water to over the 1 cup line. Let soak for 15 minutes
- Pull off the ends of the parsley and soak in a bowl of water for 10 minutes
- Finely chop green onions and tomatoes, and place them in a serving bowl with the shredded lettuce
- Remove parsley from the water and spin in a salad spinner
- Roughly chop the parsley and add it to the serving bowl
- Check to make sure the bulgur is done soaking and add it to the serving bowl
- Add all of the spices and lemon juice to the salad. Thoroughly toss. ALWAYS ADD LEMON JUICE BEFORE OLIVE OIL
- Add the olive oil and toss
- Add more lemon juice if need be