Tabbouleh is a salad made of chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, onion, and bulgur, seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Refreshing, simple and yet elegant this variation uses a mixture of bulgar wheat and quinoa. Perfect as a side dish, or starter. Great for alfresco eating parties and picnics.
- Low fat
- Low Cal
- Easy Entertaining
- Family Favourite
- Classic Dish
Tabouleh is one of my favourite side salads. We often serve it alongside barbecued kebabs or grilled meat with my easy flatbreads, easy tzatziki and hummus for a casual summer family dish or when entertaining friends. Easily prepared ahead it makes a great picnic dish too.
Over the years I have made many variations. My early tabouleh had proportionally a lot of bulgur wheat and just a small amount of parsley and mint. Over time I came to believe that was not the traditional version and it should really be predominantly a parsley salad flecked with a little bulgar. That is certainly the vogue here now. More recently I learned from Claudia Roden, whose Book of Middle Eastern Cookery was first published in 1968, that it was indeed traditionally, at least in some areas, made with larger amounts of bulgar because it was eaten in the mountains and the bulgar was needed “to fill their stomachs”. I like it both ways so I don’t really care which is the most authentic.
Having made it many times, it is a salad that I usually put together without following a recipe, so it tends to vary anyway. But for the purpose of sharing the recipe here, I have been more disciplined and measured the quantities I have used.
I was once told that the parsley and mint should be very finely shredded rather than chopped and so this is what I tend to do. But if you find it easier then just coarsely chop. You could do this in a food processor to save time but take care not to over chop the herbs as they need to keep some texture and not be turned to mush.
This version is somewhere between the two variations and I think is rather good. I have used a packet of mixed bulgar wheat and quinoa for a change. It is available from large supermarkets or ethnic stores. If you can not find it just use bulgar wheat which is more traditional. I have also always tended to use roughly equal quantities of parsley and mint, but while researching this post most recipes use more parsley. Somewhere along the line I also started to add diced cucumber to mine but again this is not traditional so I have made it optional in this recipe.
I think the thing to takeaway is that it really doesn’t matter too much. Master the basic and chop and change to suit yourself, so long as it tastes good – and it is sure too -that is what really matters.
A Lebanese salad of parsley, mint, tomatoes, onion and bulgar. Ideal side salad or starter
- 150 g bulgur and quinoa mix
- 150 g cucumber optional
- 4 tomatoes
- 8 spring onions sliced
- 50 g flat leaf parsley
- 50 g fresh mint
- grated zest and juice 1 lemon
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the bulgar and quinoa mix in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 20 minutes until the bulgur has softened and is tender to the bite. Drain well.
Cut the cucumber in half, scoop out and discard the seeds, then cut into small dice.
Cut the tomatoes in half, scoop out and discard most of the seeds, dice the flesh. add to the bulgur along with the cucumber and spring onions. Toss lightly to combine
Finely shred or coarsely chop the parsley and basil. Add to the bowl and toss until well combined.
Add the lemon zest, juice and olive oil. Season well and toss well. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.
Nutrition information is approximate and is meant as a guideline only. (It does not include seasoning with salt and pepper.)
Step by Step Tabbouleh with Quinoa
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