Tabbouleh (Tabouli) is a vegetarian Levantine salad well-loved in the vast Mediterranean and Middle East regions. It is super refreshing and healthy that is so easy to make with just a handful of ingredients.
In 2013, Armin and I had a stopped over for a couple of days in Dubai on our way back to Germany from our Philippine vacation. We did some sightseeing and also visited my two younger sisters and brother-in-law who used to worked and lived there. They are now all back in the Philippines too. We had a blast of a time and got a good view of Dubai in various perspectives although I am sure there are lots more to see, but we reserve those for next time we visit. If you are interested to visit Dubai in the future, we wrote an article about the things to do and see in Dubai with some insider tips.
One of the highlights of our trip was the desert safari, where we had an exciting drive on the dunes or dune bashing as they call it. After the exhilarating day, we were brought to a Bedouin camp for a sumptuous dinner buffet, this is where I got to try Tabbouleh the first time.
What is Tabbouleh?
Tabbouleh or tabouli is an East Mediterranean/Middle Eastern vegetarian dish made of finely chopped parsley, tomatoes, mint, onion, and bulgur. It is seasoned mainly with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
There are several variations for this Levantine salad depending on which region. The more famous is the Lebanese version. It leans heavily on the herbs, with lots of parsley and with just a little hint of bulgur. Bulgur may as well be optional. Although bulgur (cracked wheat) is usually used for this dish, you can easily substitute it with couscous just like in this recipe.
I added cucumber to this recipe for volume and the added crunch, this is, however, completely optional. Authentic Taboulleh does not have cucumbers in them.
What to serve with Tabouli?
Traditionally, this salad is eaten by scooping it with the inner leaves of romaine lettuce. Served normally chilled as part of a mezze platter along with other Meditteranean dishes like hummus, falafel and baba ghanoush. Pita or lavash bread can also be used for scooping.
Aside from being an appetizer, it also makes a great side-dish salad for grilled meat and kabobs or shawarmas.
Couscous Salad -Tabbouleh
To cook Couscous
- ¼ cup water (60ml)
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup instant couscous (60g)
To make Salad
- 1 medium cucumber - (optional) cut into small cubes
- 2 big roma tomatoes - cut into small cubes and drained**
- 1 medium red onion - finely chopped
- 1 bunch parsley - finely chopped
- ½ cup mint - finely chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt (if still needed)
- ground pepper
To cook Couscous
- Bring water, salt and olive oil to boil in a saucepan. Turn off the heat once it boils.
- Immediately add the couscous and stir. Let it stand for 2-5 minutes to absorb the liquids. Stir using a fork to fluff and loosen them up and let cool.
To make Salad
- In a bowl, combine couscous, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, parsley, and mint. Toss several times to mix.
- Add lemon juice and olive oil. Season with ground pepper and salt. Toss again until well blended.
- You can serve as is or for best flavors, cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
This recipe of Tabbouleh was originally posted in June 2014. Updated in January 2020 to include new photos and improved recipe.