"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 bulgur, 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 bulgur 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
Test Kitchen Notes
Who: Cdilaura brings us generations-old Italian and Lebanese recipes.
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.
More about tabbouleh: If you read a dozen tabbouleh recipes, you might stumble upon a dozen different ratios of bulgur to parsley. As Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi share in their book Jerusalem, “The Lebanese use the least amount of bulgur, just a tiny quantity of grain dotted sparingly among the parsley. The Palestinians add a little more.” For Cdilaura, author of this recipe, her mother’s golden ratio—2 bunches of parsley to 1 cup of bulgur—is just right. But feel free to increase the greenery or grain-ery according to your own preference. Make sure you use the called-for fine bulgur, not coarser bulgur or cracked wheat, neither of which would cook up in the same way. (Some fun facts from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen: “Bulgur is made from parboiled or steamed wheat kernels/berries that are then dried, partially stripped of their outer bran layer, and coarsely ground. The result of this process is a highly nutritious grain that cooks relatively quickly.”) When it comes to the other ingredients, now is the time to get the good stuff: a tomato that’s so ripe it’s ready to burst; a cucumber that’s equal parts crisp and sweet; and, perhaps most importantly, the most delicious olive oil you can get your paws on. Likewise, resist the temptation to use bottled lemon juice. While that can be a lifesaver with a big pitcher of lemonade, freshly squeezed lemon juice makes all the difference in this simple salad. —The Editors
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Serves 6
fine bulgur (sometimes called #1)
large mint leaves
lemons, juiced (about 6 tablespoons)
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, plus more to taste
- Put the bulgur in a bowl, cover it with an inch of just-boiled water, and let it sit at least 20 minutes. (It will double in size.)
- Wash and dry the parsley and mint. Remove the stems, finely chop the herbs together, and put them in a large mixing bowl.
- Peel and deseed the cucumber half. Slice it lengthwise into thirds, then chop. Chop the scallions and tomatoes and add them to the cucumber, parsley, and mint.
- Drain any remaining water out of the bulgur and add it to the vegetables.
- Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the salad. Mix well, taste, and adjust the seasoning and olive oil as needed.