Tabbouleh, Tabbouli, or tabouli salad (parsley salad) is probably one of the most popular salads in the Middle East. And with such popularity comes many options on what makes the best tabbouleh. My Lebanese husband grew up eating tabbouleh and one of our earliest conversations when we were dating was around the subject of what made good tabbouleh—so this recipe is based on his family’s preparation.
First off, this salad is best when it’s prepared just before your meal and leftovers really don’t keep well. So I’ll make as much as we’ll eat during one sitting. Tender leaves of the parsley and mint are used and the stems are discarded. Small amounts of the leaves are arranged on a cutting board and finely sliced with a very sharp knife. I don’t use the food processor for this because it bruises the leaves, affecting the taste and texture.
Bulgur wheat is an ingredient that you either love or want left out of tabbouleh. We leave it out, but if we were to use it, ¼ cup would be enough. Some tabbouleh salads at restaurants have double the ratio of bulgur to parsley which changes the salad from a parsley salad to a bulgur wheat salad. The final dish should be overall green with red bits of juicy tomato.
The next important step is to make sure all the ingredients have enough juice from the combination of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil—I’m not trying to drown the parsley, but I do want a healthy amount of liquid to pool when it’s served.
Tabbouleh is traditionally eaten with Lebanese bread that is torn into smaller pieces, then folded to make a scoop, and pinched between your fore finger and thumb to grab a healthy bite. The minty, lemony with hint of allspice flavor is very refreshing and the perfect compliment to grilled meats/fish or as part of a Lebanese mezze. I also personally love eating tabbouleh with vermicelli rice.