My Tabouleh

On a recent lazy Sunday, fired up by a surprising desire to eat healthy, my thoughts wandered to Tabouleh, that vibrantly addictive Middle Eastern salad of whole grain bulgur wheat, cucumber, tomato, red onion, copious quantities of fresh parsley and mint, and lemony vinaigrette.

I should know better by now, but in the future I must remember to NEVER follow the directions on the back of a package, even if those directions are given by BOB (of Bob’s Red Mill fame).

Bob told me to soak two cups of Bob’s Red Mill Bulgur in two cups of water for an hour. That sounds reasonable, except I ended up with SIX cups of hydrated bulgur, enough to feed six people Tabouleh for three days. The quickest way to end a newfound love for Tabouleh is to have to eat it for nine days in a row.

But just in case YOU end up with leftover Tabouleh, here are a few ways to use it.

What to do with Leftover Tabouleh

  • Wrap in a warm flour tortilla, along with crumbled feta.
  • Use as one component of another composed salad.
  • Add to a veggie soup.
  • Add to a nearly finished risotto.
  • Add to a lentil curry.
  • Include in a salad of warm roasted winter squash, radicchio, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic dressing.
  • Use as the base of a salad to which you add roughly chopped black kale (lacinato), sliced toasted almonds, toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cherries, and crumbled feta.

A bow of appreciation to David Lebovitz for his Tabbouleh post, in which guest contributor Annisa Helou reveals that Lebanese 7-Spice is often a part of this salad. I didn’t know that, and it’s a knockout contribution. Annisa also says that bulgur plays a minor role in authentic Lebanese Tabouleh, which is more of a fresh herb salad with only a sprinkling of bulgur.

In the end, I decided to go for a fine balance between bulgur, herbs, and veggies, which enabled me to serve this salad as a simple meal with warm flatbread alongside. I think it’s perfect.

By the way, there are multiple spellings for Tabouleh (tabbouleh, tabbuleh) but regardless, it is always pronounced tah-BUHL-lee.

My Tabouleh

This is very much a concept recipe. You can vary the ingredients and quantities quite a bit and still get a super tasty (addictive) salad. In the summer, when mint is overflowing the garden, I double the amount specified below. I sometimes throw in other herbs too, such as lemon thyme, lemon verbena, or even oregano. MauiJim protests if his Tabouleh is sans currants, so although not specified here, I often toss those in as well.

2 cups hydrated Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Bulgur Wheat (1 cup bulgur makes 2 cups hydrated bulgur)

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped (2 cups chopped)
1 bunch mint, stemmed and chopped (1 cup chopped)
1 cup diced tomato
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup chopped red onion, crisped for ½ hour in ice water and then well drained
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

Lemon Vinaigrette, Lebanese Style
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon champagne or white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons cold- pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
few drops Harissa, Sriracha, or Tabasco hot sauce, optional but highly recommended

Spices, optional but highly recommended
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground coriander
-or-
2 teaspoons Moroccan Ras El Hanout

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine hydrated bulgur wheat, parsley, mint, tomato, cucumber, red onion, and lemon zest. Reserve.
  2. To make the vinaigrette, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and optional hot sauce.
  3. Add optional spices.
  4. Taste for seasoning, and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Drizzle about half of the dressing over the salad to begin with, tossing gently to combine. Add additional dressing until the salad is well dressed but not soggy.
  6. Serve immediately. Leftover Tabouleh is delicious but not as vibrant as the freshly made salad.

Serves 4-6.

More on Tabouleh

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Copyright 2012 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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About Susan S. Bradley

Intrepid cook, food writer, culinary instructor, author of Pacific Northwest Palate: Four Seasons of Great Cooking, and founder of the Northwest Culinary Academy.

Comments

  1. Hi Susan, Thank you for visiting my blog and it’s a pleasure to discover yours. I am very happy that I landed on one of my favourite salads. We call it Tambouli in Cyprus where I come from and when I make it I don’t soak the bulgur at all. I make it at least an hour before serving and it sucks up all the juices from the tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil and lemon juice. For a salad for 4 I do not add more than 2 heaped tbsp of bulgur. Finally, I occasionally make it with fresh coriander (cilantro) as well.
    Ivy´s last blog post ..Vegan Borscht (Beet) SoupMy Profile

  2. I love the way you give such an extensive collection of good links with your post. I’ve never made tabbouleh the traditional Lebanese way with such a high proportion of green herbs, though I’m sure it’s super-healthy that way. I guess I got used to making it with more grain. I do make it now with quinoa instead of bulgur, it’s good.
    Mary (Fit and Fed)´s last blog post ..Winter Jewel Salad with Pomegranate VinaigretteMy Profile

  3. Lemon verbena? Yum. What a novel idea. I’m not usually a purist about food, but normally I am about tabouleh. Not this time. Your wonderful interpretation completely won me over. Thanks.
    Victoria Challalncin´s last blog post ..Fast and Easy Potato-Zucchini WafflesMy Profile

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