TABBOULEH: Is Lebanon’s National Salad the World’s Best?
Tabbouleh is not just a salad - it is an experience. It is rightly considered Lebanon’s national salad and originating from its mountain region. From there, it has spread across the Middle East and the world. My Lebanese mother, grandmother, great-aunt, were all ‘tabbouleh queens.’ I have known this salad all my life and always looked forward to eating it. The bright fresh green bowl of parsley, diced tomatoes, spring onions, and tangy vinaigrette dressing, made this a taste sensation.
What I thought could only be found in my family home started to show up in restaurants and in the deli section of many supermarkets. Admittedly, the commercial version lagged behind the fresh, home-made tabbouleh, yet the proliferation testifies to its popularity.
Tabbouleh is often served as part of the mezze. a selection of small dishes that serve as an appetiser before the main meal. Other dips like hummus (chick pea dip) and baba ghanouj (eggplant dip) are also part of a traditional mezze.
The key to the recipe below is the type of parsley used and the amount of burghal (cracked or bulgar wheat). Gluten-free versions instead of bulgar wheat: Use the corn version or, if necessary, quinoa or corn couscous. Don’t forget the mint (fresh, if possible) which makes it extra refreshing. Finally, move heaven and earth to get a hold of allspice. The simple 1/2 teaspoon will take a simple vinaigrette and make it fly.
Why not make some tabbouleh today?
¼ cup fine burghul (bulgar wheat) or gluten-free alternative
2 bunches parsley (flat-leaf Italian parsley is recommended over the curly version).
2-3 spring (green) onions, finely chopped
4-6 medium-sized tomatoes, diced.
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint (a smaller amount of dried mint can be used instead)
150 ml lemon juice
150 ml olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon freshly ground allspice
1. Wash the bulgar wheat and drain for around half an hour. Make sure there is no excess liquid when putting into the salad.
2. Wash the parsley, allow to drain, and then take off the leaves and throw away the stems. Chop the leaves until then are fine.
3. Put the parsley, bulgar wheat, diced tomatoes, mint, and spring onions in a bowl.
4. Mix in the dressing (lemon juice, oil, allspice, pepper and salt) into the salad.
5. You can serve on a plate or put with some Romaine lettuce.