Most people in the states go to a supermarket or organic market and find Tabouleh on the salad bar. Every time I see this version, I chuckle because most of it is all wheat. It is wheat or Bulgur with some tomatoes and parsley. To make Tabouleh is more time consuming, but if you see more wheat in the salad, it is because it is easier to put more wheat because the parsley can be a headache.
If you are Lebanese or Syrian, the wheat is referred to as “Burghul”. The traditional salad has much less wheat and more parsley, curly parsley to be exact. Tabouleh is also made with diced tomatoes, green onion or scallion, lemon juice, olive oil, fresh mint, and salt to taste.
In my opinion, the key ingredient is the type and quality of your tomatoes. They must be vine ripe and juicy.
Everyone makes this salad differently. My friend, Rebecca Aboulhosn Ackley, would invite me over to her parents home for dinner when we were younger, and her Lebanese mother, Helen, would make Tabouleh with pickling or English cucumbers. I loved it. In my family, we never used cucumber. Then, I visited Hala Cafe in Jacksonville, Florida and saw the cucumbers in the Tabouleh there too. I, too, started including cucumbers in my recipe as well. It is an optional ingredient, but a healthy addition to this salad. Also, if you are going to make Gluten-Free Tabouleh Salad, this is a great substitution.
Traditonally, curly parsley is used, but when you visit the market, you will see Italian flat leaf parsley, and might be tempted to buy that as well. I tried this variation of Tabouleh salad at an amazing Lebanese restaurant in Paris. Cafe Rimal, which is on Boulevard Malesherbes, served up some Tabouleh salad with Italian flat leaf parsley and…NO BURGHUL (wheat). I loved it, of course, but this was very surprising to me. Also, this past week I made Tabouleh salad for Easter and when buying parsley from this Turkish market, the owner of the store expressed his preference of italian parsley over the curly one. Perhaps different areas of Lebanon make it differently.
If there is anyone who has more knowledge on this, please feel free to comment. I’d love to hear from you.
My version of Tabouleh salad, and it is a very traditional one, is listed under the Recipes section at the top, under Middle Eastern.
Enjoy the recipe and thank you for reading.