Lebanese Tabbouleh is a parsley based salad with few ingredients. Parsley of course, with tomatoes, scallions, mint and bulgur. There are many version of this wonderful salad in the middle east and as you would expect everyone has “the best” or ”the original” or “the only true” recipe for this dish. What makes this version Lebanese is the ratio and proportions of the different ingredients.
There is no lettuce in this salad, but it is usually offered with crispy romaine or flat cabbage to scoop the tabbouleh and enjoy it as green as it can be. It is also a healthy alternative to pita bread. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where vines grow, freshly picked very young grape leaves make an excellent vehicle for the tabbouleh adding a little bit of tartness…
Tabbouleh is in a war of its own. Always competing with the other traditional salad: Fattoush. You should see the debates at restaurant tables when choosing between those two salad staples while ordering the mezze… Priceless.
Recipe credits: Rafaella Sargi
⅓ cup super fine bulgur
⅓ cup lemon juice
8 cups flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped (around 4 big bunches)
2 cups small diced tomatoes (4 tomatoes total)
5 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
½ teaspoon dried mint (I don’t use fresh mint because it becomes black easily)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon allspice (optional)
a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Crispy Romaine Lettuce for serving (optional).
You will need a small cup, a big bowl for mixing and a serving dish.
Cut the tomatoes in half and remove their juices and pulp. Place the tomato juice, lemon juice and bulgur in a small cup, mix well and set aside. This will give some time to the bulgur to absorb the liquids and soften.
Prep all the remaining ingredients..
In a big mixing bowl, place the chopped parsley, diced tomatoes and scallions. Mix well. Taste the bulgur; it must be soft and not hard anymore. When the bulgur is ready, add it to the parsley, add the mint then mix again. Season with the ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Salt to taste. Mix again (yes… I know! this is why I suggest using a big bowl for this step).
The Tabbouleh requires a lot of extra virgin olive oil and some lemon juice to balance the flavors. Taste and correct the seasoning accordingly. Remember: You can always add but can’t remove the seasoning. So, slowly,… taste, correct… taste again… and do not forget to add the allspice or cayenne pepper if using :)
Transfer the tabbouleh to a serving dish. Enjoy!!