Tabbouleh: The Perfect Summer Salad!
Tabbouleh is Lebanese dish made with fresh herbs (like parsley and mint) and a fine-grained bulgur wheat (which is, essentially, couscous). It’s seasoned with lemon, garlic, sea salt, and herbs. It’s the perfect cold dish for a hot summer day – and it can be eaten as both a stand-alone salad entrée or as a dip for chips or veggies!
My husband spent part of his childhood in the Middle East where he first tried Tabbouleh. When we were newly dating, he told me about it, but I had never tried it. Then, one romantic Friday evening during a date to Costco (no joke) we found an Americanized version of the stuff—and after one bite, I was hooked! I loved the mixture of lemon and garlic in Tabbouleh. I especially loved that it was packed full of healthy ingredients (filled with protein, fiber, and vitamins). I wanted to understand what the traditional dish was supposed to taste like, so I did a little research and set out to make my own.
Traditionally, tabbouleh recipes vary based on socioeconomic background. Wealthier folks tend to use more herbs (mint and parsley) when preparing the dish; less expensive versions of the dish have fewer herbs. I loved the traditional base of lemon, garlic, and sea salt, but I played around with adding my own twist, like lima beans, black beans, avocado, plump cherry tomatoes, red onion, you name it! I spent a long time fine-turning this recipe, and still, each time I make it, I find myself changing some things—adding more lemon here, or more garlic there. That’s the beauty of this recipe: it’s forgiving. You can change things up, and it tastes different each time!
Hopefully you find as much joy eating this as I do each time I prepare it!
What You’ll Need:
- 2/3 cup fine bulgur wheat* (Couscous will work, but the grain will be larger; If you’re GF, try white quinoa as a substitute!)
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 2-3 large lemons, juiced to taste
- 3 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 3 large bunches), finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. Himalayan sea salt or more to taste
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped jicama
- ½ cucumber, finely chopped
- ½ cup finely chopped scallions
- Optional add-ins: ½ avocado, cut into small cubes; ½ cup black beans’ ½ cup lima beans
- Prepare bulgur wheat according to package directions. Set aside to cool. When it has cooled for 20 minutes, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Add in minced garlic.
- In a mixing dish, finely chop mint and parsley. Add in chopped onion cucumber, jicama, scallions, and tomatoes. Using a large spoon, mix thoroughly.
- Combine the herbs, veggies, and legumes with the bulgur wheat. Thoroughly mix using a wooden spatula. Taste on occasion to test flavor; add more garlic, lemon, or sea salt to your liking. Refrigerate in a covered container for 4 hours to let flavors immerse.
- Serve within 2 days and enjoy as an entrée or as an appetizer “dip” with chips and vegetables.