Tabouli Salad Recipe
Tabouli (Tabbouleh) is a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern salad made with lots of fresh parsley, chopped tomatoes, cucumber and a lemon juice and olive oil dressing. My recipe is made with quinoa rather than the traditional bulgur wheat, so it’s gluten-free. This vegetarian side dish is light, fresh and healthy!
This tabouli recipe comes to you via a reader request! Georgiana recently emailed me requesting a great tabouli recipe for summer. I got to work with recipe testing… and here is my easy tabouli recipe!
This traditional Lebanese dish uses lots of fresh parsley and a relatively smaller amount of bulgur wheat in the salad. I decided to make my tabouli with protein-packed quinoa since I always keep quinoa in my kitchen. Using quinoa also makes for a gluten-free tabouli salad. You can use bulgur wheat if you prefer, just follow the cooking instructions on the package. I’ve read that couscous is sometimes used as well.
Feel free to customize this recipe to your tastes, adding more or less parsley or quinoa as desired. I like to add feta cheese for a salty pop of flavor.
How to Make Tabouli
To make tabouli, you will start by cooking your quinoa (or bulgur wheat if preferred). You want to cook the quinoa first so that it has time to cool before you mix it with the rest of the salad ingredients.
While the quinoa cooks and cools, prepare the rest of the salad ingredients. I recommend peeling the cucumber and removing the seeds. To do this, cut your peeled cucumber in half lengthwise and gently scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Finely chop the cucumber, along with the tomatoes and onions.
You’ll need one large bunch or two smaller bunches of fresh parsley. Wash the parsley and dry it well between towels. Chop the parsley, removing the large stems.
Fresh mint is optional in this tabouli salad. You can add some chopped fresh mint leaves or leave them out, depending on your taste preferences.
The dressing is a simple combination of lemon juice and olive oil, plus garlic, salt and pepper. Be sure to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
Tips for Making Tabouli Salad:
- You can use green or red onion, chopped small.
- I used cherry tomatoes in my tabouli. You can also use roma tomatoes, but be sure to drain them well after chopping so they don’t add too much liquid to your salad.
- This recipe is delicious with some feta cheese added!
- Tabouli tastes best after it has been chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours. When you make it ahead, the flavors have time to develop. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Tabouli is often served wrapped in romaine lettuce leaves. I like to serve tabouli with pita bread and hummus or as a side dish for grilled chicken.
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¾ cup quinoa (see note)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- ¼ teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (plus more to taste)
- 1 large cucumber
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (halved or quartered)
- 6 green onions (white and light green parts only, thinly sliced)
- 1 large bunch or 2 small bunches fresh parsley (chopped)
- 10 mint leaves (finely chopped)
- Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Place quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water; drain. Add the quinoa to the boiling water, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cover. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed. If you prefer bulgur, follow the instructions on the package and drain well.
- Transfer quinoa to a large bowl or plate to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Peel the cucumber, slice it lengthwise and use a spoon to remove the seeds. Chop the cucumber into ¼-inch pieces.
- Add the finely chopped cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, parsley and mint to the bowl with the lemon juice mixture. Stir to combine.
- Add the cooled quinoa to the bowl and stir gently to mix.
- Tabouli can be served immediately, but is best if made ahead and chilled for at least 12 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Enjoy within 3 days.
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