Tabbouleh, also spelled tabouleh or tabouli, is a traditional Levantine salad that is commonly served as part of a mezze in the Arabic world. The Levant is a historical term that refers to a large area in the eastern Mediterranean. In its greatest sense, the term has referred to all the countries along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean from Greece to Libya, many of which have shared a great culinary history and tradition. The region is considered the western counterpart to the Maghreb.
Tabbouleh is a vegetarian dish made with fresh veggies, bulgur wheat, olive oil, and spices. It is perhaps one of the most distinctive dishes of the region. The dish can be eaten in pita bread, scooped onto pita bread, or eaten traditionally with a fork. In the Middle East, tabbouleh is commonly eaten with fresh grape leaves used as a scoop. While the traditional recipe begins with chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, and onion, tabbouleh can be revamped and made with any variety of veggies according to taste. You can add carrots, cucumbers, or red and green onions. We always suggest seasoning “to taste” as you go along in preparation, as you can always add more, but you cannot take back. To make a fuller salad, you can also add romaine lettuce.
- 2 bunches of fresh parsley (1 1/2 cup chopped, with stems discarded)
- 2 tablespoons of fresh mint, chopped
- I medium onion, finely chopped
- 6 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup bulghur, medium grade
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Romaine lettuce or grape leaves to line serving bowl (optional)
- Soak bulghur in cold water for 1½ to 2 hours until soft.
- While bulghur is soaking, prepare all other ingredients. Chop the fresh parsley and mint, being sure to discard the stems. Finely chop the medium onion and dice the tomatoes.
- After soaking, squeeze out excess water from bulghur using hands and/or paper towel.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl, except for the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.
- Line the serving bowl with grape leaves or romaine lettuce and add salad.
- Sprinkle olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper on top.
- You can serve immediately or chill in refrigerator for up to 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors time to infuse.
Variations and Substitutions:
- In addition to adding other fresh vegetables, traditional tabbouleh can be given a new twist using couscous instead of bulgur wheat.
For other great Middle Eastern recipes and resources:
Middle Eastern Food Newsletter
Middle Eastern Salads - Israeli Salad Recipe