Tabouli Salad (Tabbouleh) is a traditional Mediterranean (Middle Eastern Salad) made using bulgar wheat, fresh parsley, and vegetables tossed in a tangy lime juice dressing. It is refreshing, light, and full of flavors (vegetarian).
Here are some more summer salad recipes that you will love – Apple Kachumber, Traditional Greek Salad, Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, Watermelon Feta Salad, Som Tam Salad, Cucumber Avocado Salad, and Broccoli Apple Salad.
About This Recipe
Tabouli Salad (Tabbouleh) is one of the most popular Middle Eastern Salads. Made using fresh parsley and bulgar wheat as the star ingredients, this salad is light, refreshing, and super healthy.
Tabouli Salad is very easy to make and uses very few simple ingredients. Once the prep is done, it comes together in just 5 minutes.
It is also great for meal prep. Parsley holds well against the citrus dressing and the texture of this salad doesn’t change for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
The recipe that I am sharing today is a traditional Tabbouleh Salad recipe that I learned from a chef of a very popular Middle Eastern restaurant in Bangalore.
Serve it as a side for a Middle Eastern-style meal or for a light dinner. It is also a great salad to take for potlucks, get-togethers, or BBQ parties.
What Is Bulgar Wheat
Bulgar is cracked wheat that has been parboiled or partially cooked. It is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It is a minimally processed grain and has an earthy nutty flavor.
Like any other whole grain, bulgar also has many health benefits. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories. It promotes heart health and controls blood sugar levels. Bulgar is also a rich source of fiber.
When cooked, bulgar has a texture similar to quinoa, couscous, or steamed rice.
Bulgar comes in various grind sizes – Fine, Medium, Coarse, and Extra Coarse. The highest quality bulgur has particle sizes that are uniform, thus allowing a more consistent cooking time and result.
I personally like to use fine bulgar to make this salad as it gives a nice texture to it.
This grain is very forgiving and can be cooked in advance and refrigerated.
To cook bulgar, all you have to do is soak it in boiling hot water or stock. The time of soaking depends on the texture of the grains. Fine bulgar gets cooked in just 10-12 minutes, the medium-grain will take 15-20 minutes and the coarse grain will take 25-45 minutes to cook perfectly.
Bulgar Wheat – I have used fine bulgar to make this recipe and it needs about 10-12 minutes of soaking time. It has a nice bite to it and goes well with the rest of the ingredients.
Broth – Use vegetable or chicken broth to cook the bulgar. You can use water too but the flavors will be compromised.
Herbs – Fresh parsley is one of the main ingredients in this salad. You can either go for flat parsley or curly parsley. I feel that the curly one gives this salad a little more volume. Other than parsley, I have also used mint leaves and spring onion greens. Together they make this salad very refreshing!
Some people add red onions instead of green onions for a better crunch in the salad.
Veggies – Chopped tomatoes and cucumbers are traditionally added to this salad. They give a nice crunch to it.
I prefer using English cucumbers, as they are thin-skinned and seedless. Use fresh, firm, and ripe tomatoes!
Dressing – This salad uses a simple olive oil dressing that has only 4 ingredients – minced garlic, freshly squeezed lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. That’s it!
Use good quality olive oil for the dressing, as it really makes a difference when it comes to its taste.
Feta and Olives – Finally, top the salad with some crumbled feta cheese and pitted and sliced olives. Use kalamata olives or black olives.
The Feta Cheese adds a soft texture to the salad complimenting the nice fresh bite of the veggies.
How To Make Traditional Tabouli Salad
Cook The Bulgar
Bring ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth to a boil over high heat.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in ½ cup fine bulgar.
Cover the pan with a lid and keep aside for 10-12 minutes.
Remove the lid and fluff the cooked bulgar using a fork.
Transfer the cooked bulgar to a mixing bowl.
Make The Salad
Add ¾ cup (packed) finely chopped parsley, ¼ cup cubed tomatoes (¼-inch cubes, seeds removed), ¼ cup cubed cucumber (¼-inch cubes), 2 tablespoon whole mint leaves, and ¼ cup chopped spring onion greens and toss well.
Refrigerate the salad for 30 minutes.
Toss The Salad With The Dressing
Add 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 25 g crumbled feta cheese, and 5-6 pitted and sliced olives, and mix well.
Frequently Asked Questions
To make gluten-free tabouli, just replace bulgar with quinoa.
You can make it vegan by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth and skipping adding feta cheese.
Traditionally, only cucumber, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and green onions are added, but if you like to experiment you can go ahead and add in colored bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, etc.
You can use a food processor to finely chop the parsley. For veggies, I will recommend using a sharp knife to chop them.
Yes, this salad is low in carbs and is packed with the healthiest of ingredients. Bulgar is one of the ingredients that are very rich in fiber which is great for digestion. Other than bulgar, fresh parsley is a wonderful anti-inflammatory ingredient that reduces the risk of cancers and improves your immune system, whereas tomatoes and lemon juice are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
If you ask me, I will say that this salad actually tastes better the next day when all the flavors come together. Tabouli salad will last in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days. Store it in an air-tight container and refrigerate. This salad is not freezer-friendly though.
- Substitute bulgar wheat with orzo, couscous, broken wheat, or quinoa.
- You can add chickpeas or boiled or grilled chicken pieces or shredded chicken to it.
- Replace the bulgar with cauliflower rice.
This salad tastes the best when served cold. Once ready, keep the bowl in the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 30 minutes.
You can serve this salad on its own too as it’s quite filling.
It is also a great dish to be served on the side with Lebanese-style grilled chicken or fish for a healthy and filling dinner.
You can add tabouli in romaine lettuce leaves and serve it as a healthy boat.
Serve it on the side with grilled kebabs, mujaddara, shawarma, Turkish fried eggplant, middles eastern potatoes, or dukkah with bread and oil.
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Traditional Tabouli Salad Recipe (Tabbouleh)
To Cook The Bulgar
- ½ cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
- ½ cup fine bulgar
For The Salad
- ¾ cup finely chopped parsley (packed)
- ¼ cup cubed tomatoes (¼ inch cubes, seeds removed)
- ¼ cup cubed cucumber (¼ inch cubes)
- 2 tablespoons whole mint leaves
- ¼ cup chopped green onions (scallion greens)
For The Dressing
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 25 grams Feta cheese (crumbled)
- 5-6 olives (pitted and sliced)
Cook The Bulgar
- Bring the broth to a boil over high heat.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in bulgar.
- Cover the pan with a lid and keep aside for 10-12 minutes.
- Remove the lid and fluff the cooked bulgar using a fork.
- Transfer the cooked bulgar to a mixing bowl.
Make The Salad
- Add parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, mint leaves, and spring onion greens and toss well.
- Refrigerate the salad for 30 minutes.
Toss The Salad With The Dressing
- Add salt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, feta cheese, and olives, and mix well.