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Tabbouleh Salad Recipes with Couscous, Bulgur, Quinoa, Fruit, Herbs

Updated on November 15, 2016
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John applies his scientific & research skills (PhD) to develop recipes, food guides, reviews of healthy whole foods, ingredients & cooking

Tabouli, Tabbouleh or Tabouleh is a very popular dish of Middle Eastern origin that is very healthy and very quick and easy to make at home. Its main ingredients are freshly chopped parsley or mint and various tiny whole grains of carbohydrate derived from wheat (bulghur, semolina, couscous) or gluten free grains such as Quinoa (tiny grain-like seeds from a South America plant related to beets and spinach), Brown Rice or Hemp Seeds.

Finely chopped tomato, cucumber, onion and garlic are added to making a refreshing salad seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. You can add you own flavors and substitute for many of the ingredients to include basil, coriander a locally available fresh herbs and grains. These salads are very versatile and being so finely chopped can be used in a great variety of ways. They are great with hummus and Lebanese BBQ meats, on pita bread sandwiches, homemade kebabs and as dips and general purpose salads. Making your own is very easy. Just follow the tips and recipes provided below.

The Grains and Seeds

What makes these salads so healthy and nutritious is the fast cooked grains and seeds that are high in protein and low in fat.

Nutrition Summary (cooked)

Grain / Seed
Total Fat (g)
Carbs (g)
Protein (g)
Quinoa (gluten free)
1 cup (185g)
Coucous (cous cous)
1 cup, cooked (157g)
Bulgur (burghul)
1 cup (182 g)
Wheat hearts
1 cup
Brown Rice (gluten free)
1 cup (195g)

Grain and Seed Options

Quinoa is a pseudocereal seed rather than a true cereal, or grain, and is a chenopod, and is closely related to vegetable species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Quinoa originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru To prepare soak the grains and wash and strain them in a sieve using running water until the water runs clear. Transfer to a saucepan and simmered for 10 to 15 minutes. The grain will absorb moisture.

Bulghur (also known as bulgar or burghul) is a boiled and dried form of cracked wheat. It is usually available is a fast-cook version of whole wheat that has been washed, then parboiled and dried. It is then ground into pieces of various sizes and sifted into distinct sizes. It has a nut-like flavor and is high in fiber and rich in B vitamins, phosphorus, iron and manganese. It is a pre-cooked version of cracked wheat, with some of the bran removed that has been pre-cooked. As its pre-cooked Just wash it with cold or warm water about 2 or three times in a sieve and squeeze the water out. For cracked wheat, for each cup add two cups of water. Bring to the boil in a saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Couscous (Cous Cous) is made from grains of semolina, which is coarsely ground particles of durum wheat about 1mm (1/16”) in diameter. The packaged form available in the stores has been pre-steamed, pre-cooked and dried. To complete the final cooking of couscous, you can do it in a steamer or cooked it using the absorption method following the details on the package.

Other alternatives and brown rice and hemp seeds, both gluten free.

Best Ever Tabbouleh, Tabouli Recipes

Nutrients in a Typical Tabbouleh (0ne serving)

Indicative nutrient contents are: Per serving: 220 calories, 30 gm carbohydrate, 5 gm protein, 10 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, zero cholesterol, 8 gm fiber, 157 mg sodium.

Bulghur Tabbouleh Recipe with Mint and Onion

1 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (flat leaf variety is best)
1 cup water
1 cup fine Bulghur (#1) or Cracked wheat
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cucumbers, finely diced
3 tomatoes, finely chopped into small cubes
1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoons salt

  • Pour the water onto the Bulghur in a bowl and let stand covered for about 20 minutes.
  • Combine the lemon juice, oil and salt in a separate bowl or cup.
  • Add the vegetables and herbs to the Bulghur and mix.
  • Pour in the lemon juice and oil mixture and mix well.

Bulghur Tabbouleh Recipe with Tomatoes and Parsley

3 tablespoons (30g) fine bulgur
2 (50g) spring onions, thinly sliced
3 medium-sized (600g) ripe and firm tomatoes, finely chopped
2 cups (20g) mint leaves, finely chopped
14 ounces (400g) flat-leaved parsley, washed, dried and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (or Lebanese spice)
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon with zest
2/3 cup (150ml)of good quality, extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
lettuce, washed and dried

  • Rinse the bulgur in a bowl with 2-3 changes of cold water. Drain well, stir it and fluff with a fork.
  • Chop the herbs into fine strips and add to the finely diced tomatoes in a bowl
  • Sprinkle the bulgur all over the tomato mix.
  • Season with the allspice, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  • Add the olive oil and lemon juice and mix well.
  • Serve immediately with lettuce.

Bulghur Tabbouleh Recipe with Mint, Cucumber and Tomatoes

1 cup whole wheat bulgur
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup boiling water
2 scallions, finely diced
1 medium tomato, finely chopped into tiny pieces
1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
3 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Add the bulgur to the boiled water, cover and leave standing for about 15 minutes, then fluff up the grains with a fork.
  • Mix together the scallions, parsley, chopped vegetables and mint and combine with the cooled bulgur.
  • Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt together. Pour over bulgur and vegetables and toss. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator in covered container.

Gluten Free Tabouli Recipe using Brown Rice

1 cup of cooked (and cooled) brown rice
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup finely minced fresh broad-leaf parsley
2 cups of diced cherry tomatoes (or standard tomatoes)
2 cups of cucumbers, peeled and finely diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup of finely chopped onions
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoons of sea salt

  • Mix the brown rice and the vegetables and herbs in a large mixing bowl.
  • Combine the lemon juice, oil and salt in a separate bowl, then add to brown rice mixture and mix well.

Lentil Tabbouleh Recipe with Cucumbers, Mint and Garlic

3 cups cooked lentils
3 roma, cherry or standard tomatoes finely chopped
1 large bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup olive oil + 1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 of a cup onion, finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper
chopped cucumbers
mint and garlic

  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl, rest for a short time in the fridge.

Winter Tabouli with Shredded Cabbage, Onions and Bulgur

1 avocado
1/4 cup of bulgur
2 cups of finely shredded cabbage
1 cup of chick peas
1/4 cup of minced onions or finely sliced shallots
3-4 cloves of minced garlic
juice of one lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoon of ground dried mint
2 Tablespoon of sumac

  • Shred the cabbage very finely and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Peel the chick peas and add to the cabbage.
  • In a small bowl, pour the very hot water over the bulgur and leave for about 10 minutes.
  • Drain the bulgur and press through a sieve to remove all the excess water.
  • Transfer the bulgur and mix with the cabbage and chick peas.
  • For the dressing - Peel the garlic and mince and grind with salt in a mortar and pestle.
  • Add the garlic paste to the juice of a lemon and the olive oil in a small bowl and add the herbs and spices.
  • Mix well and transfer to the salad bowl and mix again. Add the sliced avocados just before serving.

Tabbouleh Salad Recipe with Bulgur, Cherries and Pistachios

Salt to taste
1/4 cup fine bulgur
1/2 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons pistachio oil
3 tablespoons Extra-Virgin olive oil
24 sweet fresh cherries, pitted and diced
1 1/4 cups finely chopped parsley, tightly packed
1/2cup finely chopped mint, to taste, tightly packed
1/2 cup pistachios, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

  • Place the bulgur in a bowl with a generous sprinkling of salt.
  • Cover with the boiling water and set aside for 20-30 minutes, until bulgur has absorbed most of the water and is tender.
  • Strain the bulgur and press out to remove any excess water.
  • Combine the parsley, mint, bulgur and cherries in a large bowl and mix well. Make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, olive oil, pistachio oil.
  • Season to taste with salt and freshly ground back pepper. Add the pistachios and dressing and toss to combine.

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • rlaha profile image

    rlaha 5 years ago from Spartanburg, SC

    All of these varieties look so yummy. I've had tabouleh only once. I will have to take these recipes and try to recreate them at home. Thank you so much for sharing! Voted up, interesting and useful.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

    Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

    I love the varieties you included - tabouleh is a favorite of mine; I need to try the new ideas here. I like to use cilantro in it for a different spin on the parsley. Great hub - voted up & useful.