How to Make Tabbouleh Interesting

Here’s an easy recipe for tabbouli–and a couple variations that makes it more interesting than usual.

Do you really need another recipe for tabbouleh? Maybe not, but let this recipe serve as a reminder that in summer, a great tabbouleh can anchor a meal of other wonderful foods, as it does in this photo. Arrange tabbouleh on a platter with cured meats, a great cheese or two (Comté is pictured), some olives and the best bread in your neighborhood. Pour a dry, crisp rosé (from the South of France, peut-être?) and head outdoors for summertime dining at its best.

Although tabbouleh is a quintessential Middle-Eastern dish, most every deli in France sells a version. Sometimes it’s made with couscous instead of bulghur (I prefer bulghur, but the French seem to eschew whole grains), and the recipe will vary from shop to shop depending on what’s local and looking good at the market.

This is a basic recipe, but add-ins make it all your own. One of my favorite versions, as pictured above, includes avocado, radishes, and the best lettuces available from the farmers market. Just keep in mind that the more items you add, the more you may need to adjust the amount of dressing–simply go up on equal parts of the lemon juice and olive oil as you add ingredients to the bowl.

Makes 4 servings

1 cup uncooked bulgur
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup snipped fresh fines herbes or snipped fresh parsley
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, stir together bulgur, boiling water, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand about 30 minutes or until water is absorbed. Drain excess water in a fine-mesh sieve and return bulgur to the bowl.

2. Stir in tomatoes, fines herbes, and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add to bulgur mixture; toss to combine. Cover and chill salad at least 1 hour to meld flavors. Stir and taste before serving, adding more lemon juice, salt, and/or pepper if necessary.


Avocado and Radish Tabbouleh: Instead of 3/4 cup parsley and chives, use 1/2 cup parsley and chives and 1/4 cup fresh mint. Omit the tomatoes. Just before serving, stir in 1 peeled, chopped avocado, 1/2 cup sliced fresh radishes and 2 cups torn fresh salad greens, perferable some with frisée in the mix.

Mâche Tabbouleh: Just before serving, stir in 1 1/2 cups shredded mâche (a delicately tangy salad green); substitute 1/2 cup thin onion slices for the green onion; omit parsley and add 3/4 cup chopped mint.

SUMMERTIME TIP: When farmers markets are in full swing, get the bulgur softened, drained, and waiting in the fridge. Then, go to the market, pick up whatever looks great, and toss it into this salad. You can have a colorful, in-season salad ready in minutes once home.


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