Arab Tabbouleh Salad {Recipe}

Tabbouleh ( تبولة‎) is an vegetarian side dish originally from the mountains of Lebanon and Syria in the Arab world.  The word from comes the Arabic word taabil, meaning seasoning.

It consists mainly of parsley, bulger and tomatoes, with mint, olive oil and lemon juice added for flavoring.

From it’s origins, variations of tabbouleh can now be found around the world, in Turkey and the Dominican Republic, traveling with the Lebanese and Syrians that migrated. It is a popular dish at American potlucks, first appearing in the 1950s.  Nowadays, you are likely to find unusual additions added in, depending on the person’s personal taste.

In the late 1990s, there was a Tabbouleh Cook Off held at a local Seattle park.  I, unfortunately, was asked to be a judge.  I say unfortunately because it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

They were all so tasty, but here’s what I learned from the Arab elder women who came to Cook Off their prized family recipe, it comes down to if you have time to make a great tabbouleh instead of an okay tabbouleh.  You have to chop your parsley very fine.  If you think it’s fine enough, chop it again.  You need time to chop and chop some more   No one should be able to pick a piece of parsley out of your salad and use it as a garnish.  It needs to be the size of the bulger to get that texture that a great tabbouleh is known for.

To start your side dish, place a cup of fine bulger in two cups water.

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You basically want the bulger to soak up the water while it sits for an hour.   After your hour is up, drain your water.  I also take fistfuls of the bulger to squeeze out extra water.

Next you’ll want to chop 3 medium tomatoes.  I like to start by cutting them into small cubes.

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Then I place them in my Tupperware Quick Chef to make them smaller. I don’t want them liquid, like Mexican salsa, just a bit more dainty.

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Set your tomatoes aside in a bowl.

Next remove the stalks from the parisly and place in the Quick Chef, but I churn it for much longer. Just when I think my arm is ready to fall off, I switch arms.  That’s the cool thing about the Quick Chef, it has a padded bottom that keeps it in place when I switch arms.

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Here’s the tip to really great tabbouleh: chop your parsley some more. Yup, I know I’ve said it till I’m blue in the face, but it’s important. I take it out of a chopper and chop it again.

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Combine  the parsley and tomatoes to the freshly squeezed bulger, with half a cup of chopped mint, half a cup olive oil,  a third of a cup of lemon juice and a pinch of salt/pepper to taste.  Place it all in the fridge for at least an hour.

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Add it as a side to any meat dish.  Or have it inside a sandwich with falafel.

Personally, I  like it best in the morning with a side of eggs and roasted red potatoes.  That’s the thing about great tabbouleh, when it’s good, it doesn’t matter when or what you eat with it.

Be sure to stop by these other recipes from the Arab world



I am a Libyan American who creates art to promote a positive image of Arab and Islamic culture.