Mediterranean parsley salad or tabbouleh, tabouleh, tabouli, probably the best-known Middle Eastern salad recipe, made with lots of parsley, dressed in a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing.
This amazing Mediterranean parsley salad or Tabbouleh is all about the parsley. I have been making one version or another of tabbouleh for years now, but most of the time until recently, I have concentrated on the bulgur, building the salad around it.
This time though, after reading through Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook again, I realized that, as they say: “tabbouleh is not always understood in the west, is all about parsley… this is essentially a parsley salad, not a bulgar salad.”
Well, OK, as I have tons and tons of fresh parsley in my herb garden now, I thought: “What better time to make a parsley salad?” No better time actually… And in case, you are swimming in parsley at the moment as well, how about making this Homemade Parsley and Garlic Paste, I am addicted to it and put it in just about anything.
- It is the main ingredient. You need lots of it, I weighed the leaves after removing the stems, I had 80 g/ 2.8 oz.
- You will have lots of leftover parsley stems, do not throw them away. You can freeze them and use them when you make chicken stock, beef broth, bone broth or vegetable broth.
- Flat-leaf parsley is the best sort you can use, it has a stronger flavor and it feels better to eat it. I like it much more than the curly version, which I sometimes think it kind of gets stuck in the throat.
- However, the curly-leaf version is growing like crazy in my garden this year, so I used about half flat-leaf and half curly-leaf parsley.
- Chop the parsley finely using a very sharp chef’s knife that will cut the herbs properly without crushing and bruising them in the process. Don’t be tempted to use a food processor, it will ruin the parsley, I am afraid. I know there will be a lot of chopping involved when making this salad, but it is really worth it!
- You will also need a smaller bunch of mint.
- A good ratio of parsley to mint is 4 to 1. So, as I had about 80 g/ 2.8 oz parsley, I needed about 20 g/ 0.7 oz fresh mint leaves, weighed after removing the stems.
- You should be able to feel the mint flavor in the tabbouleh, however, the mint should not challenge the parsley, like I’ve said, this salad is all about the parsley.
- I used the medium bulgur sort because that is what I had in the house.
- Fine or extra-fine bulgur is perfectly OK as well, just make sure that you read the packet’s instructions when you prepare the bulgur.
- Usually fine or extra fine bulgur only needs about 5 minutes soaking time in hot water or broth. My bulgur needed 10 minutes of soaking time in hot broth.
- Again I cannot stress this enough: do read the packet’s instructions for certainty on how to cook the bulgur, it differs from kind to kind and sometimes from brand to brand.
- Many tabbouleh recipes I saw only use hot water to soak the bulgur, but I always choose vegetable broth (made from a cube) when cooking bulgur, it adds some extra flavor that I like. However, the broth is optional, you could use hot water instead.
- There is a little of a debate here, some people prefer to deseed the tomatoes, some people feel that the extra juices are OK in the salad.
- In my case is like this: if I happen to have Roma/plum tomatoes, which are rather firm and don’t have so many seeds and juices, then I leave them as they are.
- If I use cherry or regular tomatoes, I deseed them, otherwise, I feel that the salad becomes too soggy.
- The best cucumbers for this Mediterranean parsley salad are the short Persian cucumbers,they have a better flavor and are less watery than regular cucumbers.
- However, if you cannot find them, the usual long (English) cucumbers are fine as well. If they are too thick, remove the seeds using a teaspoon.
- I used spring onions, which I sliced very thinly.
- You could use shallots or red onions as well, very finely chopped, I do use them as well, when I don’t have any spring onions, but I do prefer the finer taste and freshness of the spring onions.
- The dressing for the Tabbouleh or Tabouli Salad is very simple, just a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- I had a rather large lemon and it was perfect. Taste the salad and adjust the lemon to your taste, you can use less or more lemon juice accordingly.
How to make parsley salad?
- Prepare the bulgur. Cover it with hot broth (or water) and let it stand until the water is absorbed. Medium bulgur needs about 5 – 10 minutes but check the package instructions. If you still have liquid in the bowl after this time, drain the grains well in a fine-meshed sieve. Place the grains in a large salad bowl.
- If needed, dessed the tomatoes and the cucumbers. Chop finely. Slice the green onions finely as well. Add to the bowl.
- Remove the herb leaves from the stems. Chop them very finely using a long, sharp chef’s knife. Add to the bowl.
- Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix carefully.
How to serve?
Serve the parsley salad immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. If you want to make it ahead (a few hours), add the dressing before serving.
Serve with pita bread or crips romaine lettuce leaves, use them as wraps for the salad.
More Mediterranean salads:
Mediterranean Parsley Salad – Tabbouleh or Tabouli
- 115 g/ 4 oz/ ½ cup fine or medium bulgur wheat Note 1
- 250 ml/ 8.4 fl.oz/ 1 cup hot vegetable broth
- 4 medium plum tomatoes Note 2
- 1 long thin English cucumber Note 3
- 3-4 spring onions depending on size
- 80 g/ 2.8 oz fresh parsley leaves Note 4
- 20 g/ 0.7 oz fresh mint leaves Note 4
- 1 large lemon
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- fine sea salt and pepper
- Place the bulgur into a heatproof bowl and cover it with the hot vegetable broth. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or according to the packet’s instructions. Drain well, if you notice that not all liquid has been absorbed. Place the drained bulgur into a large bowl and let cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Halve the tomatoes and deseed them, if necessary. Chop them very finely. Deseed the cucumber, if necessary, and chop it finely as well. Thinly slice the spring onions.
- Remove the stems from the parsley and weigh the leaves, you should have about 80 g/ 2.8 oz parsley leaves. Do the same with the mint, you should have about 20 g/ 0.7 oz mint leaves. Chop both kinds of herbs very finely with a sharp knife to avoid bruising them too much.
- Add all the chopped herbs and vegetables to the bulgar bowl. Mix carefully but thoroughly and add the lemon juice and the olive oil. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, if necessary.
- Read the packet’s instructions, soaking times depend on the sort (and sometimes on the brand) of the bulgur you use.
- Plum tomatoes are firm and don’t have too many seeds, that is why I don’t deseed them. If using other sorts of juicier tomatoes, you should deseed them, otherwise, the tabbouleh might be too soggy.
- If available, use 3-4 Persian cucumbers, depending on size. Persian cucumbers don’t need to be deseeded, they are crispier and less watery.
- I weighed the leaves after removing the stems of the herbs. You should have about 80 g/ 2.8 oz parsley leaves and about 20 g/ 0.7 oz mint leaves.