Traditional Tabouli Salad (Tabbouleh)

5 from 2 votes

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).

Tabouli salad served in a bowl.
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About Tabouli Salad

Tabouli Salad (Tabbouleh) is among the most popular Middle Eastern Salads. Made with fresh parsley and bulgar wheat as the star ingredients, this salad is light, refreshing, and 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 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 for potlucks, get-togethers, or BBQ parties.

Here are some more summer salad recipes that you will love

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 uniform particle sizes, thus allowing a more consistent cooking time and result.

I like to use fine bulgar to make this salad as it has a nice texture.

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 water or stock. The time of soaking depends on the texture of the grains. Fine bulgar gets cooked in 10-12 minutes, medium grain takes 15-20 minutes, and coarse grain takes 25-45 minutes to cook perfectly.

Ingredients

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 and goes well with the other 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. Besides 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 with 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 makes a difference in taste.

Feta and Olives – Finally, top the salad with 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.

Broth boiling in a pan.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in ½ cup fine bulgar.

Bulgar added to the pan.
Stirred well.

Cover the pan with a lid and keep aside for 10-12 minutes.

Pan covered with a lid.

Remove the lid and fluff the cooked bulgar using a fork.

Cooked bulgar.

Transfer the cooked bulgar to a mixing bowl.

Cooked bulgar transferred 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
  • ¼ cup chopped spring onion greens

and toss well.

Veggies aded to the bowl.

Refrigerate the salad for 30 minutes.

Mixed well.

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
  • 0.9 oz (25 g) crumbled feta cheese
  • 5-6 pitted and sliced black or Kalamata olives

and mix well.

Dressing ingredients added to the bowl.

Serve.

Ready tabouli salad.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make gluten-free tabouli?

To make gluten-free tabouli, replace bulgar with quinoa.

How to make vegan tabouli salad?

You can make it vegan by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth and skipping adding feta cheese.

Which vegetables can be added to the tabouli salad?

Traditionally, only cucumber, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and green onions are added, but if you would like to experiment, you can add colored bell peppers, broccoli, zucchini, etc.

Can I use a food processor to chop the veggies?

You can use a food processor to chop the parsley finely. For veggies, I recommend using a sharp knife to chop them.

Variations

  • Substitute bulgar wheat with orzo, couscous, broken wheat, or quinoa.
  • You can add chickpeas and boiled or grilled chicken pieces to it.
  • Replace the bulgar with cauliflower rice.

Serving Suggestions

This salad tastes best when served cold. Once ready, keep the bowl in the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 30 minutes.

The best way to serve this Lebanese salad is chilled on a mezze. It tastes fabulous with hummus, Baba Ganosh, Falafel, or pita bread chips.

You can also serve this salad on its own, 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.

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, Middle Eastern potatoes, or dukkah with bread and oil.

Storage Suggestions

This salad 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.

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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).
5 from 2 votes

Traditional Tabouli Salad Recipe (Tabbouleh)

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.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 4 People

Ingredients 

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
  • 0.9 ounce Feta cheese (25 g, crumbled)
  • 5-6 black or Kalamata olives (pitted and sliced)
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Instructions 

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.
  • Serve.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

This salad tastes the best when served cold. 

Nutrition

Calories: 149kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 849mg, Potassium: 255mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 1184IU, Vitamin C: 19mg, Calcium: 65mg, Iron: 2mg
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