The Perfect Tabbouleh
This has got to be one of the most popular middle eastern salads. It was very popular in my family and everywhere around. Tabbouleh is the salad that appeared in every birthday party and in all planned and unplanned family gatherings. Although we can now make it anytime of the year, it was almost exclusively a summer salad because tomatoes and parsley are both at their best during summer.
Each family had their own tabbouleh master and we had two! I always helped with preparing for tabbouleh, because picking and chopping parsley for 20+ people is time consuming 😊 especially when this salad is the main event and not a side dish. Also, women would always take pride in how finely chopped their tabbouleh veggies are, it is essential that parsley and tomatoes are very finely chopped. So, this was time consuming and took more than one person to prepare.
There are endless recipes for this salad online. To be honest, I have seen and experienced a lot of versions of this salad that are not remotely close to what we call tabbouleh. This has motivated me to create the perfect tabbouleh recipe. Unlike other recipes that call for rough measurements, I created a recipe with very precise measurements to recreate the recipe I grew up loving and enjoying.
Let’s get that tabbouleh on the table!
Usually, people get the proportions of the ingredients wrong. Let’s agree on something, tabbouleh is a parsley salad and not a burghul salad. So, if your salad is rather white than green, then it is not tabbouleh. In the recipe below, I will be using cup measurements to leave the guessing out of the game.
Use the freshest ingredients possible and make sure your tomatoes are red and ripe, but still firm.
Wash your parsley well and allow it to completely dry, preferably overnight. Parsley’s stems are usually left out and only tender stems and leaves are used for the salad.
Parsley, tomatoes and onions should be finely chopped, which might be time consuming. However, this is the way to achieve the right texture. People often ask if a food processor can be used to prepare the veggies. I’d say, well it was never used in my house, but I think you can use it to prepare the parsley. You’d still have to chop the tomatoes and onions by hand though.
Burghul should NEVER be soaked in water. Once soaked in water, the burghul will absorb the water and will taste soggy. Instead soak in the lemon juice right before you start chopping the veggies. By the time you’re done, the burghul will be ready.
Salt and mixed spices are to be added to the finely chopped onion. It should then be squeezed a few times to make sure that all the juices in the onions are out. Preparing the onions this way means that you will not be annoyed by the raw taste of onions.
Make sure to use the best quality extra virgin olive oil.
You do need all the oil and lemon juice because no one likes to eat a dry tabbouleh.
Serving that delicious salad!
Tabbouleh tastes best right after it is prepared. I have seen people suggesting that the longer it sits, the better it tastes. I’d say all people I know would certainly disagree with this.
Tabbouleh can be served as a salad next to grilled meat and chicken. It can also be served as part of a mezze table. However, like I said above, you really do not need an occasion to make tabbouleh, it can be served anytime of the day on its own.
Tabbouleh is served with small romaine lettuce leaves, which serve as scoops for the salad. My mum’s favorite way of eating though, is with fresh vine leaves. Tastes divine!
The Perfect Tabbouleh
- 4 bunches flat leaf parsley, or 5 ½ cups leaves and tender stems only
- 2 cups tomatoes, or 4 pcs
- ⅓ cup burghul
- ½ small onion or 70 g very finely chopped
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 tbs dried mint
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp salma’s spice
- In a large bowl, soak burghul in lemon juice.
- Chop tomatoes very finely and add to burghul mixture. Adding tomatoes before parsley ensures that the lemon juice gets mixed with juices from the tomatoes.
- Remove parsley’s stems and chop very finely, add to the bowl.
- Add salt and spice to the onion and squeeze the juices out, then add to the bowl.
- Add dried mint and olive oil.
- Mix really well and serve immediately with romaine lettuce.