My Mother's Lebanese Tabbouleh

By • July 18, 2014 20 Comments

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Author Notes: "My mother's is best" is an adage that fits this recipe perfectly. There are a lot of variations of tabbouleh out there -- some mostly made of bulghur, some without cucumbers, some with spice -- but I always compare those variations to my mother's recipe and they never stack up. Her recipe has the perfect parsley to bulghur ratio, it has enough lemon to keep it dressed but not soggy, and it has crispy cucumbers that add a nice contrasting bite. She learned how to make tabbouleh from my grandmother who never used a written recipe, making it each time to taste just the way she liked, as grandmothers usually do. It's the perfect simple summer salad to keep your menu light and fresh. Enjoy! cdilaura

Food52 Review: WHO: Cdilaura brings us generations-old Italian and Lebanese recipes, and she also brings beautiful products to Provisions as our VP of Commerce Operations.
WHAT: The best possible way to eat a lot parsley.
HOW: While your bulgur soaks, dice a whole lot of parsley and some mint, too. Toss the grains and herbs with chopped tomato and cucumber, then dress with lemon juice and olive oil.
WHY WE LOVE IT: All too often we buy a whole bunch of parsley, use a couple of leaves, and then let the rest wilt in the fridge. No longer! This tabbouleh uses a load of parsley to make a refreshing and surprisingly simple salad that’s more herb than grain. We love to eat it by itself, with hummus, stuffed into a pita with falafel, or as a bed for grilled fish.
The Editors

Serves 6

  • 1 cup fine bulghur (sometimes called #1)
  • 2 bunches curly parsley
  • 10 to 12 large mint leaves
  • 4 to 6 scallions
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Put the bulghur in a bowl, cover it with an inch with water (it will double in size), and let it sit at least 20 minutes.
  2. Wash and dry the parsley and mint. Remove the stems, finely chop the herbs together, and put them in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Peel and deseed the cucumber half. Slice it lengthwise into thirds, then chop. Chop onion and tomato and it them to the cucumber, parsley, and mint.
  4. Squeeze any remaining water out of bulghur and it to the vegetables.
  5. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well, taste, and adjust seasoning and olive oil as needed.
  • This recipe is a Wildcard Contest Winner!
  • This recipe is a Community Pick!
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Comments (20) Questions (0)


5 months ago Connie Tucker

Here in northern Maine we have a significant population of Lebanese folks. I learned from them. You left off the cinnamon, 3/4 tsp.. Absolutely vital to a proper tabbouleh.


5 months ago V.E.D.

Cucumbers are not a traditional part of the recipe, but my mother added them for a little extra crunch. She always used curly just holds up better, but feel free to make any changes you wish.


7 months ago chiara sullivan

I use curly parsley and all spice, no cucumber


8 months ago Alex Txn

It sounds very yummy, but in Lebanon they don't cucumber in the Tabbouleh at all, and they do use flat leaf parsley.


8 months ago kristina

my husband is Lebanese and we have refined our recipe over the years, it is very similar to this except never heard of cucumbers being added so will try that next time. we use much less bulghur, not even half a cup and have found that roma tomatoes work best. we sometimes personalize by adding a little sumac.


11 months ago insecureepicure

This is a great recipe but as I am gluten free, I use quinoa.


11 months ago Petite fee

I learned to soak my bulgar in the juice from the tomates especially if the tomatoes are juicy. I let the tomates drain from a fine sieve into a bowl then pour the juice into the bulgar instead of water. I notice it takes on a great added flavor to this awesome dish.
Thanks for sharing! awesome recette...


11 months ago Sharon

Great suggestion! Never waste that tomato juice. Thanks.


11 months ago lebanese girl

Good morning, am a lebanese girl and I live in Lebanon. I just wanted to tell you that in the lebanese tabbouleh we don't put cucumber. otherwise all is good and we eat it with cabbage on the side or lettuce :) good recipe.


11 months ago mejanna

flat leaf italian parsley is the best. very favorable, very nutritions.


11 months ago lisa

Curly parsley? Seriously? It has zero flavor and is really just a garnish (and a bad one at that). Surely you must mean flat Italian parsley. Otherwise, this sounds excellent!


11 months ago Sharon

Yes! Seriously! Curly parsley works best for tabbouleh. I was a chef in an Israeli restaurant and gained wisdom on this subject. At first, I thought like you, but now I know better. I found out one day when our produce vendor sent us flat leaf by mistake and wow, what a difference it made in the tabbouleh! Italian flat leaf parsley is TOO flat! It doesn't have the same volume and bite-crunch as the crinkly variety, becomes slick and even flatter when minced, and sticks to the teeth. I learned to trust the Israeli chef'/owner who knew best how to prepare the foods of his homeland. Italian parsley may good for many things but not for all things. Everything has its place. The more exposure to other cultures we have, the more we learn. Hopefully


11 months ago Anastasia Hagerstrom

I agree, curly leaf parsley has the right texture and flavor profile. Flat leaf doesn't work - falls flat as suggested. For the cook who suggests curly leaf parsley is tasteless, try getting it fresh and from a reputable green grocer/farmers' market.


3 months ago Reeshiez

In Lebanon flat leaf parsley is used. Curly leaf parsley doesn't exist. It's as simple as that. It makes sense that the Israeli owner of the restaurant you worked in wouldn't know any better. Tabbouleh is not an Israeli dish. It is first and foremost Lebanese _ from the Bekaa valley_ but it is also popular in Syria, Jordan and Palestine.


3 months ago Sharon

The restaurant owner "doesn't know any better?" Seriously? Please, pretense is so unattractive. It stands to reason that if curly parsley doesn't exist in Lebanon then you wouldn't use it. Right? Given the choice, I find that curly works best. You can do as you choose. We're only talking about parsley here and you don't have to be Lebanese to make tabbouleh. After all, it's not exactly "Grand Cuisine." It's just a salad.


11 months ago Alex Txn

Try to eat it with cabbage ( like a spoon) or Romain lettuce.


11 months ago Anastasia Hagerstrom

I add cumin to the dressing recipe. I also add sliced black olives and garbanzo beans.


11 months ago Alex Txn

I do make tabbouleh all the time, and it is very delicious.


11 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This, stuffed into freshly made phulka roti, with Genius hummus + grilled vegetables = supper tomorrow evening. Wonderful recipe. Can't wait to try it! Congrats. ;o)


11 months ago cdilaura

Christina is the Vice President of Commerce Operations for Food52.

Can't wait to hear how it turns out for you -- enjoy!