The queen among the salads, tabbouleh is a vitamin bomb, an expression I learned in Germany when talking about super healthy food. An authentic tabbouleh is prepared with “tons” of parsley and little bulgur, and not the other way round! Parsley is an excellent source of folic acid and vitamins A, C and K! My first encounter with “fake” tabbouleh was during my first visit to the States in 1985. After weeks of pizza, burgers, and fried chicken, fajitas and spring rolls, I was desperately craving for Lebanese food! And there I was, coincidentally passing by a small snack bar that offered tabbouleh in Boston while visiting the campus at Harvard. You can imagine my disappointment when I spotted that bowl of bulgur with a hint of parsley behind the counter! As I haven’t been spared that sight in many bars and restaurants in Germany either, tabbouleh has become the first salad I introduce in my beginner’s classes! Many have had tabbouleh before, they proudly tell me! Big is their surprise when they see the bunches of parsley they have to rinse and chop!
It is one thing to make a delicious tabbouleh, it’s another thing to write a perfect recipe. Is there a perfect recipe at all? Tabbouleh is an individual experience; yours will definitely be good with your own twist, suiting your own taste buds. If you are a tabbouleh beginner, you will soon add your personal touch to my recipe as well, I bet on that, and that’s no crime!
Just make sure you buy aromatic tomatoes. I, for myself, only make tabbouleh in summer when tomatoes and young parsley are actually in season. In Germany, I also prefer the more aromatic cocktail tomatoes. And one last tip to go; let your tabbouleh be zesty with lemon juice and shiny with oil, and always toss your salad a few minutes before serving to prevent tomatoes losing lots of juice.
Yield 4-6 servings
- 1 big bunch flat-leaf parsley (300 g), leaves stripped off, rinsed well, drained and finely chopped
- 500 g tomatoes, rinsed and finely chopped
- 150 g spring onions, trimmed, rinsed and thinly sliced
- 50 g fine-grain bulgur
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pinch of allspice
- A few fresh mint leaves, rinsed and chopped or 1 teaspoon dried mint leaves
- 75 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 50-75 ml lemon juice
- Rinse bulgur with cold water and soak for 5 minutes in a small bowl. Drain over a sieve and squeeze excess water with your hands. Combine the tomatoes and the bulgur in a small bowl and let soak for 10 minutes.
- Add the parsley and the onions to the large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, allspice and mint, by crushing the dried leaves between the palms of your hands.
- Add the bulgur with the tomatoes, the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Season to taste. Serve immediately.
All images and text © Dina Bayoud Kohl for Dina’s Kitchen