Home Cooking: Tabouleh Salad

I think there must about as many variations of tabouleh salad out there as there are people making it. Everyone seems to put their own twist on it, from the amount of vegetables added to the spicing and even how it’s spelled (tabouleh? tabouli?). My go-to recipe for tabouleh these days is the one on the back of Bob’s Red Mill red bulgar packages, but I’ve tried others and every one of them has been good.

Tabouleh is a perfect hot weather salad as other than boiling a cup of water there’s no heat needed. Bulgar wheat is actually wheat groats that have been parboiled and dried, and all that’s needed to soften it up is a soak in boiling water (equal parts water to dried bulgar). To make the salad, chopped vegetables (parsley, tomato, and cucumber are the basics), some spices, lemon juice, and finally olive oil are added to the softened and cooled bulgur. Tabouleh is a great accompaniment to not only other Middle-eastern dishes but grilled meats as well. It’s an integral part of any Middle-eastern mezze platter.

This is the falafel mix I use. It’s ready in less than 10 minutes, the flavor is great, and the falafel balls are always light and fluffy

I especially like to fix tabouleh when we’re having falafel. I could make falafel from scratch, but prefer to use a mix because it’s just easier. Falafel balls are stuffed into whole wheat pita bread along with shredded lettuce, diced cucumber, and topped with some homemade tahini sauce (recipe below), and along with a serving of tabouleh we enjoy a flavorful, filling, and healthy meatless meal.

The Bob’s Red Mill tabouleh recipe calls for 3 cups of chopped parsley, but I find that amount excessive – I like to taste the bulgur. I usually only add around a cup and a half of chopped parsley, and that’s plenty for us. Fresh mint is also listed in the ingredients, but it can be optional – I’ve had tabouleh both with and without mint.

TABOULEH SALAD

  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 – 3 cups finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup minced green onion
  • 2 medium or one large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 TBSP olive oil

Put the dried bulgur into a medium mixing bowl; pour the boiling water over the it and mix together, then let sit for an hour. The bulgur should be softened and all water absorbed. If water is still visible, place the bulgur into a clean towel or dishcloth, and twist/squeeze to get rid of extra moisture.

Add the chopped parsley, mint, and green onions to the softened bulgur and mix together. Gently fold in the diced tomato and cucumber, then mix in the salt, cumin, and pepper and toss everything with the lemon juice.

Chill the salad for at least one hour. Just before serving add the olive oil and mix well.

TAHINI SAUCE

  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame butter)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • ice water

Put the minced garlic into the lemon juice and let sit for around 10 minutes so that the juice can absorb the garlic flavor.

Blend the tahini into the lemon juice along with the salt and cumin. It will become quite stiff. Gradually add in ice water, about 2-3 TBSP at a time, until the sauce is smooth and creamy, and flows easily without being runny.

(Leftover sauce is great served as a dip with toasted pita triangles).

4 thoughts on “Home Cooking: Tabouleh Salad

  1. I love falafels and tabouleh! (or fattoush) Our area has a lot of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants and the rest of us have whole-heartedly embraced the food (and the people too!)

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    1. Falafels have been a favorite of ours for over 40 years; same for tabouleh. The mix I showed is my favorite – I’ve never had such fluffy falafels, and they’re super easy to make too.

      We had a great Middle-eastern restaurant back in our old neighborhood in Portland (which has sadly since closed). Their food was delicious, but the cooks were from Mexico! The owner said they were fast learners and they got the flavors right so that what they cooked tasted like it did back in Lebanon. The flatbread and baba ganoush at that restaurant was to die for.

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