"This Tabbouleh Salad (also spelled Tabouleh or Tabouli) is a light, refreshing salad of bulgur wheat, fresh tomato, cucumber, onion, and lots and lots of parsley. It could almost be called a parsley salad since so much is used. Simply tossed with a dressing of fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, it makes a great healthy simple side"
Why you should make your own Tabbouleh (Tabouli) Salad
Because it's so easy, delicious, and good for you.
I've eaten Tabouleh Salad for years, usually purchased from the deli counter in a little plastic container to eat as a side dish for whatever sandwich we chose for lunch.
I've had good Tabbouleh salads, made with a nice mix of bulgur wheat and parsley, to horrid Tabbouleh salads, comprised of overly oily parsley mixed with little else.
But in making my own version, I wanted a perfect ratio of bulgur to parsley to fresh crunchy cucumber to ripe, firm, tomato.
And I wanted the dressing to be light, not oily. With a good mix of lemon to olive oil.
Did I succeed?
I think I did.
- Why you should make your own Tabbouleh (Tabouli) Salad
- Tabbouleh (Tabouli) Salad Ingredients
- What is Cracked Bulgur Wheat and How to or not to Cook it
- The Health Benefits of Parsley
- What kind of Cucumber to use in Tabouleh Salad
- The Best Tomato to use
- A Perfectly Simple Dressing to Finish the Salad
- Here are more Hearty Salads...
- Tabouleh (Tabbouleh) Salad
Tabbouleh (Tabouli) Salad Ingredients
- Cracked bulgur wheat
- Parsley - use either curly or Italian flat leaf. I prefer curly in this Tabouleh salad as it's easier to chop.
- Cucumber - See choices below
- Tomato - If it's not summer, use Roma tomatoes. If it is summer, use a ripe heirloom, any color. Remove most of the seeds and use the flesh and skin.
- Red Onion
- Lemon juice
- Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil
What is Cracked Bulgur Wheat and How to or not to Cook it
I don't know why I haven't made Tabouleh salad at home before. I guess it's because cracked bulgur wheat seemed so "foreign" and therefore it must be difficult to work with.
It's not. Cracked bulgur wheat is a partially cooked grain product that is then cracked into what reminds me of "Grape Nuts". It cooks in about 10 - 15 minutes and has a slightly nutty flavor.
Nothing scary or difficult about that.
I did read through my library of cookbooks and looked online at different recipes before starting my own version.
One Tabbouleh recipe I read instructed you to put the uncooked cracked bulgur wheat into the dressing to "soak up" the dressing for additional flavor - sighting the fact that since it's partially cooked already, leaving it in the dressing would allow it to plump up and become soft while soaking up the flavor.
Wow, I thought, great idea.
My partially cooked, 10 minutes to cook, practically instant cracked wheat bulgar did not soak up anything.
It did not become soft.
It did not become more flavorful.
It only became hard, crunchy, oily bulgur.
Not a good way to start. So I tossed it and started over.
With cooked bulgur wheat. Cook the bulgur for about 1 minute less than the package directions. This leaves it soft, but undercooked enough that it will still be able to soak up the dressing, along with the wonderful flavors.
By the time I served my Tabbouleh Salad 2 hours later, it was perfectly soft, tender, and flavorful.
The Health Benefits of Parsley
Back in the day, a big sprig of parsley on the plate was the garnish de jour. Everybody put that parsley on there for that "pop" of color. With breakfast it sat on an orange slice, otherwise, the parsley stood alone.
I may have been the only person on the planet who actually ate her parsley. It was a great palette cleanser.
But aside from the "palette" and breath-cleansing benefits of eating parsley, there are health benefits as well, such as:
- Parsley is rich in many vitamins, including Vitamin C, B 12, K, and A which help keep your immune system strong.
- Parsley helps flush out excess fluid from the body, supporting kidney function. However, it contains oxalates, which can cause problems for those with existing kidney and gallbladder problems. So check with your doctor if this is an issue for you.
- The folic acid in parsley can help control your blood pressure.
- Regular use of parsley can help with joint pain as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Parsley relaxes stiff muscles and encourages digestion.
- Studies indicate that parsley may have a role in inhibiting cancerous tumors.
So when adding the parsley to the Tabouleh - remember to add copious amounts, at least two cups of chopped fresh parsley - more if you so desire - to help reap the health benefits as well as the flavor.
Flat or curly parsley - that's your choice. Either one works fine.
What kind of Cucumber to use in Tabouleh Salad
The cucumbers are another one of those, "your choice" ingredients. You could use Persian cucumbers, which are small with tender skin, Japanese or Hot House cucumbers, or just plain old regular cucumbers.
Damn, this salad is delish and healthy!
If you can find the Persian cucumber, you don't need to peel them. You could also leave the skin on Hot House or Japanese cucumber, which I often do in salads. I chose to remove it for this preparation as I think the skin, both the color and texture, distracted.
Or just use a regular cucumber.
Cucumbers offer many health benefits as well, some that mimic the parsley along with lowering uric acid which helps keep your kidneys in shape, being good for diabetes, and helping to lower your cholesterol.
Regardless of the type of cucumber used, and whether you peel it or not, use a teaspoon to scoop out and remove the seeds.
The Best Tomato to use
The tomatoes should be fresh.
If making this dish in other than the summer months, use a Roma tomato for the best flavor and texture. During the summer, use any fresh firm tomato. If especially seedy, remove the seeds before adding them to the salad or it might get too mushy.
A Perfectly Simple Dressing to Finish the Salad
The dressing is super simple.
Equal amounts of lemon juice to extra virgin olive oil.
I found ¼ cup each to work perfectly in dressing, but not overdressing the salad.
Here's a place you'll want to use a full-flavored extra virgin olive oil. Something with a bit of "pepper" or "grass" to the flavor is nice.
Look in your higher-end markets for a good choice of artesian olive oils. They are a bit more expensive, but you don't use them to cook, only to finish. And if you don't use it often, keep it in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. "Thaw" it slightly before using it. Oil will solidify in the refrigerator.
You could make this salad gluten-free by substituting Quinoa for the Cracked Bulgur Wheat.
Yes. Not only is it mostly heart-healthy vegetables, but the Houston Weight Loss Surgery Center also endorses Tabouli as one of the healthiest salads to have before weight loss surgery to improve cardiovascular function, cleanse the body, lose weight, replenish essential vitamins and promote healing after laparoscopic bariatric surgery.
This salad holds in the refrigerator for a few days and actually improves in flavor on days 2 and 3. After that, the tomatoes tend to get a bit mushy, so I wouldn't keep it much longer...that is if it's still around.
Here are more Hearty Salads...
Tabouleh (Tabbouleh) Salad
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice about 1 large lemon
- ¼ cup best quality extra virgin olive oil here is a place to use a full-flavored oil
- Salt and coarse ground pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper is my taste)
- ½ cup about ¼ large red onion, diced
- ¾ cup diced cucumber seeds removed, skin if desired
- ½ to ¾ cup diced tomato Roma works well here
- ¼ cup cracked bulgur wheat cooked, drained and cooled
- 2 cups or more minced fresh parsley leaves 1 - 2 bunches depending on size
- Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the onions, cucumber, and tomato. Stir in the cooked bulger, then add the parsley. There should be a copious amount of parsley. Mix well, Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, adding more lemon juice if it tastes too oily. Best if allowed to rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to meld. Remove from refrigerator about ½ hour prior to serving.