This is an easy healthy recipe for a delicious and authentic Lebanese Tabbouleh salad. Serve this parsley salad on it's own as a light meal or as a side dish to grilled meats and fish.Jump to Recipe Print Recipe
Tabbouleh, also commonly spelled Tabouli, is a classic Lebanese vegetarian dish. It's commonly served as a side salad or as part of mezze (small dishes served as appetizers).
Its main ingredients are fresh parsley, fine bulgur, fresh tomatoes, scallions and mint. Differences in spices used are found depending on which region in Lebanon you are from.
For instance, many will add a pinch of cinnamon or a seven-spice blend. My family uses salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Tabbouleh is dressed with a simple vinaigrette made with extra-virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
How to Make an Authentic Tabbouleh
Though it is commonly available in most grocery stores and delis, making this parsley salad at home is easy.
Just choose the freshest ingredients and follow my step-by-step instructions to be rewarded with a much fresher and better-tasting Tabbouleh than you can ever buy at a store.
- Fresh bundles of parsley. You can choose flat-leaf (also known as Italian) or curly parsley. You can also use both together. Both types of parsley are commonly used, though some will swear that flat-leaf parsley tastes better while others think curly parsley will give you a lighter and fluffier salad.
- Fresh mint
- Scallions (green onions)
- A ripe but firm large tomato
- One to two lemons, depending on how juicy your lemons are.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Fine bulgur wheat (cracked wheat), the dark variety if possible. If you can't find fine bulgur in your grocery store, you can find it in Middle-Eastern or health food stores.
Tip: For a grain-free Tabbouleh, simply omit the bulgur from the recipe and reduce the amount of dressing used. Leftover dressing can be stored in the refrigerator and used to dress other salads.
- Pick out wilted or yellowed leaves from the parsley and remove as much of the stems as possible.
- Wash the parsley 3 times to ensure the parsley is free of grit. To wash the parsley, fill a basin with water, dunk the parsley in it, swishing it in the water to release the grit and then lift the parsley out. Dump the water out and fill the basin with fresh water again. Add the parsley to the water, swish it again and lift the parsley out. Repeat this step a third time.
- Next, dry the parsley. You can let it air dry or if you're in a rush, use a salad spinner. You can also pick and clean the parsley a day ahead of time. Store the dried parsley in a clean plastic bag or an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Chop the parsley. You might be tempted to use a food processor for this task but doing so will over-process the parsley. Instead, sharpen your knife and chop the parsley finely. You shouldn't see full leaves of parsley in your finished salad.
- Measure out the fine bulgur and place it in a fine-meshed colander. Rinse the bulgur wheat under cold water. Press it against the colander to drain it well and reserve. Fine bulgur does not need to be cooked.
- Finely chop the fresh mint leaves and thinly slice the scallions. Add them to the chopped parsley.
- Chop the tomato into a small dice and add it to the remainder of the ingredients.
- The last step is to make the lemon and olive oil dressing and add the seasonings. Precise amounts are indicated in the recipe card below.
How to Serve
Tabbouleh is best served as soon as possible, it can be served at room temperature or lightly chilled. It is traditionally served with crisp romaine leaves.
This recipe will serve 4 to 5 as a starter or side. It can also be enjoyed as a light lunch and will serve 2 to 3 as the main course.
Tabbouleh is a healthy parsley salad, made with nutritious ingredients and is low in calories. Based on the nutrition calculator that I'm using, one serving (1/4 of the recipe) contains approximately 259 calories.
For Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Low Carb or Keto Tabbouleh
For gluten-free, low-carb or keto diets, simply omit the bulgur from the recipe but remember to reduce the amount of dressing used.
Though it is not authentic, you could also substitute the bulgur with quinoa for a gluten-free version. If you do so, make sure to cook the quinoa according to package directions and let it cool before combining with the other ingredients.
How to Store
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Tabbouleh cannot be frozen.
More Summertime Salads
- Fattoush Salad (Pita bread salad)
- Watermelon and Feta Salad
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken
- 3 cups finely chopped parsley (wash parsley thoroughly several times, dry it well and remove stalks before chopping)
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped mint leaves washed and stems removed
- ¼ cup fine bulgur wheat rinsed and drained
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (approx. 1 medium tomato small dice)
- 1 scallion (green onion) trimmed and thinly sliced, (about 2 tablespoons)
- 4 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice or to taste
- 6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp. sea salt more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Pinch of cayenne cinnamon or seven spice blend, all optional.
- Combine parsley, mint, scallions, tomatoes and bulgur in a medium bowl.
- Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, (and other spices if using) mix well, taste and adjust seasoning to your taste.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate if serving later.
- I have found that bunches of parsley can vary considerably in size. Therefore, it is hard to give a precise number of bunches you will need. But for 3 cups of finely chopped parsley, you will need approximately 2 to 3 big bunches.
- Parsley can be picked and washed the day before, just dry the parsley before bundling it in a dry towel and then in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
- Fine bulgur wheat does not need to be soaked, just rinsed and drained.
- For gluten-free, low-carb or keto diets, simply omit the bulgur from the recipe.
- Though not authentic, quinoa can be used in place of bulgur for a gluten-free Tabbouleh salad. Simply cook quinoa according to package directions and let cool before combining with the rest of the ingredients.
- Note: Recipe updated to reduce amount of bulgur (prior to soaking) to 1/4 cup.
This post was originally published on July 15, 2016. It has been updated with new content.