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Tabbouleh Recipe: Fresh and Flavorful Mediterranean Salad

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Tabbouleh is a refreshing Middle Eastern salad made with bulgur, fresh herbs, and vegetables. You get a burst of flavors from parsley, mint, tomatoes, and cucumbers, all tied together with a zesty lemon dressing. Perfect for a light meal or a vibrant side dish, this recipe is both healthy and delicious.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

For a great tabbouleh, you need fresh, vibrant ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

Bulgur Wheat: This is traditional for tabbouleh. You can substitute with quinoa for a gluten-free option.

Parsley: Use lots of fresh flat-leaf parsley. Curly parsley works too, but flat-leaf is preferred for its flavor.

Mint: Fresh mint adds a wonderful aroma. If you can’t find mint, you can skip it, but it adds a nice touch.

Tomatoes: Use ripe, juicy tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes can be a good substitute if larger tomatoes are not available.

Cucumbers: These add a refreshing crunch. English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers are great choices.

Green Onions: They add a mild onion flavor. If you don’t have green onions, you can use red onion in smaller quantities.

Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is essential for that tangy flavor. Lime juice can work in a pinch.

Olive Oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for the best taste. Other oils like avocado oil can be a substitute but might change the flavor profile.

Salt and Pepper: Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper enhance the flavors.

Here’s a quick reference table:

Bulgur WheatQuinoa
Flat-leaf ParsleyCurly Parsley
MintOmit if not available
TomatoesCherry Tomatoes
CucumbersEnglish or Persian Cucumbers
Green OnionsRed Onion (use sparingly)
Lemon JuiceLime Juice
Olive OilAvocado Oil
Salt and PepperNo substitute needed

Use these ingredients and possible substitutes to create your version of tabbouleh. Enjoy!


  1. Prepare the Vegetables:

    • Wash vegetables thoroughly. Pat dry.
    • Finely chop parsley, mint, tomatoes, and green onions.
  2. Soak the Bulgur:

    • Place bulgur in a bowl.
    • Soak with fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Mix Ingredients:

    • In a large bowl, combine chopped vegetables and soaked bulgur.
    • Add freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
  4. Stir Gently:

    • Mix gently to combine all ingredients evenly.
    • Taste and adjust salt or lemon juice as needed.
  5. Chill Before Serving:

    • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
    • This allows flavors to meld together.
  6. Serve:

    • Transfer to a serving platter.
    • Garnish with extra parsley or mint if desired. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Prepping Ingredients:
Use fresh parsley and mint for the best flavor. Remove thick stems before chopping. You can finely chop them with a knife or use a food processor.

Soaking Bulgur:
For perfectly tender bulgur, soak it in boiling water for 20-30 minutes. Make sure the water covers the bulgur by about an inch.

Mixing Order:
Layer ingredients without mixing them immediately. Start with bulgur at the bottom, then layer tomatoes, green onions, and parsley on top.

Prepare a simple dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Whisk well to combine. Add the dressing in stages, mixing gently to avoid mashing the ingredients.

Add freshly chopped tomatoes just before serving to keep them juicy and prevent the salad from becoming soggy.

Store tabbouleh in an airtight container in the fridge. It stays fresh for 2-3 days. Adding tomatoes last helps keep the salad fresh longer.

Make-Ahead Tip:
Tabbouleh can be prepared 1-2 days ahead. Just wait to add the tomatoes until right before you serve.

Serve tabbouleh cold or at room temperature. It’s a great side dish or a light meal on its own.

By following these tips and tricks, you’ll enjoy the freshest and most flavorful tabbouleh every time.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Recipe Variations

There are many ways to make tabbouleh to suit your taste. Here are some common variations:

  • Grains: Instead of bulgur, you can use quinoa, couscous, or even cauliflower rice.
  • Herbs: Besides parsley, try adding mint or cilantro for extra flavor.
  • Vegetables: Swap cucumbers for zucchini or bell peppers.

More Ideas

Spice it up with some ground cumin or allspice. If you like a bit of sweetness, add dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve in Pita Pockets: Spoon tabbouleh into pita bread for a quick and tasty sandwich.
  • Pair with Hummus: Enjoy tabbouleh with hummus and pita chips for a Mediterranean snack.
  • Use as a Side Dish: Perfect alongside grilled chicken, fish, or lamb.

For a Light Meal

Top the salad with grilled shrimp or falafel balls to make it a more filling meal.

Outdoor Events

Tabbouleh is great for picnics and barbecues. It stays fresh and is easy to transport.

Quick Tip

Letting the tabbouleh sit in the fridge for a bit allows the flavors to meld together nicely.

Enjoy making these tasty variations and trying out different serving ideas!