Tabbouleh, or Parsley Salad, is one of those dishes just packed with nutrition: high fiber bulghur (semi-cooked and dried whole wheat), fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley, beautiful golden olive oil and the best sea salt you can find. Fresh lemon juice finishes it off, giving you a side dish that’s light enough for a late iftar or an early-morning suhoor if you are one to incorporate salads into those meals.
It may or may not be traditional to make tabbouleh in the way I describe below, so if you’re a tabbouleh traditionalist, I’m curious to know how you simply must have yours. I’m mostly focused on the high-quality, fresh and hydrating ingredients in this dish because they help me get through a long fast when paired with protein, fruits and other healthy things.
Bulghur + fresh parsley= tabbouleh. Start out with fresh, dried bulghur. I like the medium grain, also known as #2 bulghur, but if you prefer smaller, go ahead.
Pick nice, fresh tomatoes but try to get ones that aren’t too juicy or you’ll spend a lot of time drying them up. No one likes soggy tabbouleh.
Put the bulghur in a bowl, then add water. I like the 1:1 ratio- 1 cup bulghur, 1 cup water. It doesn’t really matter, though, because you’re going to squeeze it out and remove most of the water like in the picture above.
Clean the veggies really well, even if they’re organic. I like to spray with white vinegar and let sit for a few minutes, then rinse realy well with cool water. Vinegar is a great, all-natural disinfectant.
Removing seeds and drying up the vegetables are where most of the work is in this dish, but I like to think chopping can be therapeutic. Save the insides of these veggies and add to soups and stews or make gazpacho with it.
Salad spinners aren’t just for lettuce. Once I’ve rinsed the vinegar off the parsley, I run it through a salad spinner and then chop off the woody stems and even the thinner, shorter stems all the way up to the leaf. Again, a little bit of work but easy to do while talking on the phone or something else involving multi-tasking.
I love my salad spinner. If you have a similar one, don’t put heavy things like tomatoes or cucumbers in it or it could break- it’s not that sturdy.
Chop the parsley as fine as possible. It’s nicer to eat when there aren’t large chunks of it in the salad.
This is what it looks like before the addition of tomatoes. It’s so pretty. But it’s not really tabbouleh yet.
Add all the fresh ingredients you’ve just chopped up, including the tomatoes plus olive oil, salt and lemon juice to the bulghur. (Detailed recipe below)
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- 1 cup bulghur #2 (medium size grain)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes, seeds removed and tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 cup cucumbers, seeds removed and flesh finely chopped
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- 2-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- In a bowl, soak the bulghur in the water for 15-20 minutes. It will plump up and absorb most, but not all of the water.
- Grab a handful of bulghur and squeeze out all of the water. Place the squeezed bulghur into another bowl. Discard the water that you squeezed out.
- Be sure the parsley, tomatoes (seeds removed) and cucumber (seeds removed) are all completely dry before adding to the bulghur, otherwise the salad could turn out soggy.
- Add olive oil, salt and lemon juice. Stir to combine well. Taste for preference and adjust, if necessary.
- Enjoy tabbouleh as a side dish to meats, fish and more.