This grain salad comes from Lebanon, and the traditional version is made with olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, bulgur wheat, and tomatoes. I will share with you the traditional version in a simplified form so that it is easy to make. You could always expand on it and add extra ingredients to make it more complex.
How to Make Tabbouleh Salad
The key ingredients in tabbouleh are parsley, bulgur wheat and olive oil. You can substitute some of the other components out as you wish, like using roasted peppers instead of tomatoes. You can use canned or fresh tomatoes for this salad.
Make sure you use plenty of parsley, as that is one of the highlights of the salad. Plenty of olive oil helps the salad come alive, making it pleasantly moist rather than overly dry.
You can add all sorts of other ingredients to the salad, like chopped chile peppers, cucumbers, squash, or feta cheese.
How to Serve Tabbouleh
This salad is often served with pita bread and some hummus, but it pairs well with all sorts of foods, including pasta, grilled chicken, stew, soups, and noodle dishes.
The salad should be served at room temperature, but you can chill it in the fridge for a few hours before serving to keep everything fresh.
It could be made up ahead of time to save yourself some work, and it will last in the fridge for up to five days. If the veggies start to change color, though, you need to get rid of them. Just use that five-day expiry date as a suggestion, because you don’t know how old the vegetables are by the time you get them.
How to Make Tabbouleh Lebanese Style
Let me share with you a recipe for making traditional Lebanese style tabouleh.
- 1 1/2 cups of bulgur wheat
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 2 cups of vegetable stock (water or chicken stock could also be used)
- 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
- 2 chopped scallions (greens included)
- 3 cups of parsley, chopped
- 6 Roma tomatoes, seated and chopped
- Prepare the bulgur wheat by adding boiling water to it in a pot and covering the pot for 20 to 30 minutes. Allow the bulgur to soak up the water completely and the grains to become tender.
- Combine your bulgur with lemon juice and oil, mixing thoroughly.
- Add in the scallions, tomatoes, herbs and stir together.
- You can give the tabbouleh a taste and add more lemon juice, salt, and olive oil as necessary. Allow all the ingredients to sit at room temperature and marinate for about 30 minutes before you serve the salad.
How to Make Tabbouleh with Quinoa
If you want to deviate from the traditional tabbouleh dish, you could use quinoa instead of bulgur wheat. I’ve showed you how to make tabbouleh with bulgur wheat, and the quinoa version is not much different.
You’ve been making the salad the same way, simply preparing the quinoa first and then adding it to the rest of your ingredients and leaving out the bulgur wheat completely.
Start by rinsing the quinoa and drain it completely. This will help eliminate any bitterness. Then, add water to the quinoa in a saucepan. Use twice as much water as quinoa cook on medium high heat until your mixture begins to boil. Then, lower the heat and keep a simmer going. Cook for about 10 to 20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed.
From there, take the pot off the heat, cover it with a lid, and allow the quinoa to sit in steam for about 5 minutes. Use the fork to fluff the quinoa and then season it as needed.
How to Cut Parsley for Tabouleh
Parsley is really the star of this salad, and you want to choose your parsley carefully. Curled parsley leaves give the salad some extra body and volume, and you want to choose ones that haven’t yellowed and that are very fresh.
Make sure you wash the parsley thoroughly by dunking it in cold water. You need to do this three times to get it completely clean. Then, dry it out and pull the leaves off the stems. Finally, chop the parsley very fine to prepare it for the salad.
How to Cook Bulgur Wheat for Tabbouleh
Bulgur wheat is usually soaked for traditional Lebanese tabbouleh, but you can cook it, if you prefer. You can put the bulgur in a heat-proof bowl, and then in a separate saucepan, boil water with a little salt on the stove. Pour that boiled water onto the bulgur and allow it to sit there for 30-60 minutes. It will be ready once all the water is fully absorbed.
How to Make Tabbouleh with Couscous
This is a pretty versatile salad, and you could make it with any number of grains or components, including couscous. Just boil some water in a saucepan with a little oil, salt, and butter. Once the water is boiling, add your couscous, cover the pot, and then take the pot off the heat.
Allow the couscous to sit covered in steam for about 5 minutes and then fluff it with a fork and get rid of any clumps.
How to Season Tabbouleh
Parsley takes care of most of the seasoning for this dish, and you can also use a little lemon juice or lemon zest to spruce it up. Using olive oil keeps the salad from drying out and gives it a pleasantly moist texture, while scallions add some color and flavor to the dish.
Make sure you season the bulgur or other grain with salt to help bring out the flavor for what would normally a bland food.
How to Use Leftover Tabbouleh
Tabbouleh can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, and it can be combined into other dishes for some interesting meal combinations. You can mix it into pasta or into a larger salad, if you prefer.
You could add some grilled, chopped chicken to it as well to make it heartier, and some people even wrap theirs in flatbread to make a healthy wrap.