Tabouleh salad is a traditional staple on mezza plates throughout the Middle Eastern region. It is typically considered one of the most popular salads, alongside Fattoush salad and Salata Arabia. While tabbouleh originated in Lebanon, each country has adopted its version of this salad. Now you can find this salad served in most delis, cafes, and restaurants worldwide.
I have helped my mom make tabbouleh since I was a little girl. My job was to help her pick the parsley leaves off their stems. Although this task may seem simple, it is essential to make this salad. I used to pick 20 to 30 bunches at a time. One time we even did 75 bunches. It was for my brother’s graduation party, and we had to start the process the day before to prepare this salad on time. Making tabbouleh salad is a labor of love. It is a tradition for many Middle Eastern families and a part of the culture that brings people together. Now I hope to share this love and culture with you!
What is Tabbouleh?
Tabouleh salad is an Arabic salad, an essential dish of cold mezze. A cold mezze is like a cold appetizer served when people get together. To be clear, tabbouleh is an herb-based salad. The main ingredient is finely chopped parsley. The second main ingredient is a burglar. In addition, you have tomatoes and cucumbers, even though Lebanese people argue there are no cucumbers in tabbouleh!! Some add Green onions and jalapenos; some do not. I add just half of the jalapeno to give it an extra kick in addition to the lemon and olive oil. It is so simple and delicious.
What Is Bulgur
Bulgar is a grain that originated in the Middle East. It is essentially cracked wheat. Because of this, it can be prepared fast, making it an excellent easy meal. Bulgar has been used in many dishes for thousands of years. It resembles other grains such as barley, quinoa, and rice. Bulgur’s slightly nutty flavor can be added to various dishes, providing taste, texture, and nutrition. It is also excellent in salads and other healthy dishes since it is a whole grain that contains lots of fiber. So as you know, bulgar is not gluten-free like some other grains. Check out some of our recipes on how to incorporate bulgur in your cooking: vegan stuffed acorn squash with bulgur, Vegetarian dolma with pomegranate molasses , and our Mediterranean grain bowl spicy bulgur pilaf
The best substitute for bulgur is quinoa. Quinoa is a good option if you can’t find bulgur in your local grocery store. It has a similar size, shape, and texture and is also a healthy alternative. Quinoa is also gluten-free, so it is best to use quinoa instead of bulgur if you have gluten sensitivities. Another alternative for bulgur is farro. Farro is also made from whole wheat grains and has a similar nutty flavor.
How to Prepare the Parsley for the tabbouleh salad
- When making tabbouleh, you must use flat Italian parsley. It has a smoother texture and better flavor than curly parsley. You can find Italian parsley in any local grocery store.
- Use your hands and individually pick the parsley leaves off their stems. Only use stems if they are soft and you have a good sharp knife; otherwise, you will end up with thick pieces of stems in your salad that is chewy and leave a bad taste in your mouth.
- Wash your parsley thoroughly. Soak parsley in cold water with a couple of spoons of salt for a few minutes, then drain and rinse them twice to get rid of dirt.
- Let the parsley leaves dry before chopping. You can either use a salad spinner or dry them with a cloth. If you use a cloth, flip them around once until both sides are dry.
How do you serve Tabbouleh Salad
Tabouleh is a versatile and delicious salad that is enjoyed in various ways in Lebanese cuisine, served with a side of romaine lettuce leaves, which are used to scoop up the salad and eat it by hand. This presentation not only adds a fun and interactive element to the dining experience but also provides a refreshing contrast to the herbaceous flavors of the tabouleh.
Tabouleh is a staple of Middle Eastern mezzo tables, which typically feature an array of small dishes for sharing. Adding a fresh and vibrant element to the table alongside other favorites like hummus, baba ghanoush, muoutabal, and kibbeh.
Tabouleh is a healthy and flavorful addition to any meal, whether enjoyed as a mezza, a side dish, or a main course. So next time you’re looking for a delicious and nutritious dish to serve your family and friends, consider making some homemade tabouleh and adding it to your mezzo table spread.
Tell Me How I’m Doing?
Have you been able to make this Tabbouleh salad recipe yet? Please feel free to leave me a comment below. Love to hear from you.