Popular all over North Africa and the Middle East these days, tabbouleh is a refreshing salad made with tomatoes, fresh herbs, onion and bulgur. Lemon juice, salt and olive oil are typical flavorings, although there are different versions using ingredients like garlic or cucumber.
Some people use couscous rather than bulgur, which cooks quicker but is not so authentic. If you want to try that though, pour water on to the couscous to cover and then cover it with a plate. The couscous will be done in about 5 minutes. But here we are using bulgur, and if you’re new to tabbouleh we suggest you make it the authentic way first then perhaps play around with the recipe the next time you make it, just so you can experience this tasty dish the way it is supposed to be enjoyed.
Tabbouleh originated in the Syrian and Lebanese mountains but because it is so refreshing and delicious, this salad is found just about everywhere in the Middle East and also in North Africa. You can make it ahead and take it to work for lunch, enjoy it as an appetizer, perhaps with some pita bread, or have it as a side dish with something like falafels, hummus and your favorite steamed vegetables.
Why Argan Oil Works Great Here
Traditionally tabbouleh is made with olive oil, preferably extra-virgin olive oil or at least a high-quality type. We are still using olive oil in this recipe but also adding some argan oil. This tweaks the flavor very slightly but you will notice how the creamy, nutty qualities of argan oil work beautifully with the dish, complementing the aromatic fresh herbs, vegetables and the bulgur. If you want to change the ratios of oils, using less or more argan then that is fine.
This recipe needs to be started at least an hour ahead, because that is how long the bulgur will take to tenderize, soaking up the oil and lemon flavors at the same time. While that is happening you can prepare the ingredients which need to be chopped or diced. Keep the pieces quite small and similarly sized; you don’t want huge chunks in the finished tabbouleh.
Use the Best Ingredients for the Best Results
Try to use good quality, fresh ingredients wherever possible to keep as authentic a flavor as you can. That means fresh lemon juice rather than the bottled kind and vine-ripened tomatoes for their superior flavor, along with fresh herbs (never dried herbs in this recipe!) Your taste buds will thank you for it.
The fragrant, fresh flavors in tabbouleh are part of what makes it so special. You will get a bright burst of herb flavors with every mouthful, and the colorful tomatoes and cucumber make you want to grab a fork and dig in. The following recipe makes about 8 side dish-sized servings but remember this will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator so make it all even if you don’t have to feed so many. You will want to enjoy it again the next day for sure.
What You Need:
1 cup (225g) uncooked bulgur wheat
1 1/2 cups (375ml) boiling water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons argan oil
Juice from 2 lemons
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Small bunch chopped fresh mint leaves
Small bunch chopped flat-leaf parsley
Small bunch minced green onions (white and green parts)
2 chopped medium vine-ripened tomatoes
1/2 chopped hothouse cucumber
1 teaspoon black pepper
How to Make It:
Put the bulgur in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it, then add the olive oil, argan oil, lemon juice and salt. Stir the mixture, then let it stand for an hour at room temperature.
Next stir in the mint, parsley, green onions, tomatoes, cucumber and black pepper, and mix well. Taste and add more salt and/or black pepper if necessary.
You can either serve the tabbouleh immediately or refrigerate it in a covered container until you’re ready to serve it. This dish improves if you let it sit for several hours before serving though, so the flavors can really blend.