In our household, we live on tabbouleh. It’s the kind of thing we make in bulk and always have in the fridge. This Middle Eastern salad makes for an ideal lunch, a light dinner and it even works as a filling savory snack. These days, you see tabbouleh in lots of salad bars and sandwich shops- but the dry, undressed, soggy mixture you see around is far from the original, which is one of the most perfectly balanced, clean-tasting and fresh salads out there. The perfect tabbouleh boasts fluffy bulgur grains with a nutty bite coated in the juices of the parsley/onion/tomato mixture and topped with the comforting butteriness of the olive oil.
Green Queen Tips
- You want more parsley than bulgur. The parsley is the star of the show, the grains are a supporting act. 90% of tabbouleh you see out there gets this ratio the wrong way round.
- Don’t skip the marinating step. During that sitting time, magic happens thanks to the juices of the onions, tomatoes and parsley melding together, almost like a brine, thereby creating the perfect dressing. You simply can’t rush vegetables!
- Make sure to serve the tabbouleh at room temperature. You can definitely store this in the fridge for a few days, but always let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes before you eat it.
- It’s vital to do the chopping by hand, especially for the the flat leaf parsley. Using a food processor can activate the parsley’s bitter compounds. Also, a mechanical approach can result in over-chopped parsley. Use a sharp knife and a good chopping board and put in some elbow grease!
Mediterranean Tabbouleh Salad (Vegan, Vegetarian)
Serves 3-4 – Prep Time: 20 minutes, Wait Time: 20 minutes.
- 1 cup bulgur wheat (we get the Ceres brand at Jason’s Marketplace, it’s organic and well-priced but any bulgur you can find works)
- 1 peeled and chopped medium red onion
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes (grape or cherry work well but what’s important is that you use the best quality, sweetest and juiciest tomatoes you can find)
- 2 tightly packed cups of chopped flat leaf parsley (always buy the freshest herbs you can find, we recommend the certified organic selection at Evergreen Republic or Homegrown Foods)
- 1/4 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil (we live on Olive Tree‘s version made from Greek Kalamata olives)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- sea salt (like Maldon) or Himalayan pink salt to taste
- freshly ground white pepper to taste (black pepper doesn’t work as well here; omit white pepper if you are not keen)
- If you are in a pinch, couscous works too but there’s a reason the original has endured for centuries.
- For a gluten-free version, replace the bulgur with quinoa.
- For a grain-free version, replace the bulgur with steamed cauliflower rice.
- Start by chopping your onion, tomatoes and parsley.
- In a large glass or metal bowl (no plastic), use a large wooden spoon to mix the chopped tomatoes (including juices and seeds), chopped onion and chopped parsley with the lemon juice, half the olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Let sit and marinate for a good 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile cook the bulgur according to the packet instructions. Normally this involves pouring boiling water over the bulgur grains. Let the bulgur grains sit until fluffy and then let cool to room temperature.
- Add the room temperature bulgur and the leftover olive oil to the bowl with the marinated parsley/tomato/onion and mix well. Season to your taste with salt and white pepper if using.
Serve at room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil, a crusty slice of sourdough (we love Foodcraft’s organic country loaf) or some warm wholewheat pita, and creamy Greek yogurt (not vegan, but fairly traditional).
Image courtesy of Green Queen.