Taboule oriental salad is a perfect symphony of freshness and tradition in a bowl. The refreshing salad, a medley of finely chopped fresh herbs, plump tomatoes, zesty onions, and sweet raisins, all mingling with the nutty goodness of soaked bulgur and a crescendo of a lemon dressing, quickly became famous all over the world.
Originally a Lebanese culinary gem, it spread its wings all over the world and showed up in hundreds of variations.
Join us on our explorations of the Middle Eastern kitchen and learn how to make this absolutely delightful salad with an extremely easy recipe right at home.
- The colorful journey of taboule
- Why taboule oriental salad?
- From mint to bulgur: must-have ingredients for oriental taboule
- How to make taboule oriental salad
- Things worth remembering
- Taboule oriental FAQs
- More delicious traditional foods
The colorful journey of taboule
Taboule (or Tabbouleh) originates in the Lebanese and Syrian mountains and is known to have been prepared by the Levant people far back in history, even 4,000 years ago. The name taboule comes from the Arabic word ‘taabil,’ meaning to season or to spice.
Although taboule remains a Lebanese national dish, it is this popular Middle Eastern salad eaten in many countries. The core ingredients stay consistent, and cultural and regional differences are reflected in variations of preparation and ingredients.
In Armenia, taboule is called “Eetch” and “Tambouli” in Cyprus. Turkish “Kisir” often features finely ground bulgur wheat mixed with tomato paste, red pepper paste, chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and parsley. The salad is seasoned with olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and a blend of spices such as red pepper flakes and cumin.
In Israel, it includes chopped bell peppers and various fresh herbs beyond parsley, such as cilantro and dill. The easy-going French love to replace bulgur with couscous, which somewhat shortens the time of preparing.
Why taboule oriental salad?
- Because it’s healthy. Taboule is made with a variety of fresh and wholesome ingredients, such as parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers and raisins.
- The combination of parsley, mint, vegetables, a tangy dressing and sweet raisins creates a vibrant and refreshing flavor that tastes incredibly delicious. You can experiment with different herbs to create a version that suits your preferences.
- It’s easy and quick to make. Taboule is really simple to prepare; all it requires is chopping and mixing.
- Taboule’s light nature makes it an ideal choice for a refreshing lunch in warm weather or as a side dish for other meals. You might want to serve it with Turkish tantuni wraps, and it also pairs with beef stew, fried chicken or breaded mushrooms.
- Taboule oriental salad is naturally vegetarian and vegan and is often served at gatherings and events due to its attractive appearance and ability to feed a crowd.
From mint to bulgur: must-have ingredients for oriental taboule
BULGUR – We used organic whole-meal bulgur in this recipe; however, some people prefer to make taboule with couscous. Although couscous is quicker and easier to prepare, please keep in mind that bulgur is a much healthier choice,
Bulgur and couscous might seem similar, but they’ve got distinct traits. While bulgur is made by cooking and cracking wheat kernels, couscous isn’t a true grain – it’s crushed durum wheat semolina rolled into tiny beads.
TOMATO – You can use either heirloom tomato or cherry tomato for taboule salad. Try to opt for quality and ripe tomatoes, as they will add a lot of aroma to the taboule salad.
CUCUMBER – One sliced cucumber in the salad will add freshness and a little bit of crunch to the salad. Their presence adds balance to the dish, making taboule a harmonious blend of flavors.
MINT LEAVES – The aromatic mint leaves bring a refreshing twist that’s like a cool breeze on a hot summer day. They will add gorgeous brightness, and they enrich the earthy notes of bulgur and the juicy flavor of tomatoes perfectly.
PARSLEY LEAVES – A refreshing crunch that complements the tender grains of bulgur and the sweetness of the salad. You won’t believe how well it pairs with raisins.
ONION – A refreshing crunch that complements the tender grains of bulgur and the sweetness of the salad. You won’t believe how well it pairs with raisins.
RAISINS – These tiny gems bring a delightful contrast to the savory mixture of flavors. With each bite, you’ll taste a gentle sweetness that plays harmoniously against the herbal notes of parsley and the tanginess of tomatoes.
OLIVE OIL – If possible, opt for cold-pressed organic olive oil. When olive oil is cold-pressed, the olives are gently squeezed at low temperatures, preserving their natural flavors and nutrients. This oil is also much higher in antioxidants.
LEMON JUICE – Not only does it provide a refreshing flavor contrast, but it also acts as a natural preservative, keeping the taboule oriental salad vibrant and flavorful.
FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER & SALT
How to make taboule oriental salad
SOAK THE RAISINS AND COOK BULGUR
STEP 1: The raisins in the oriental taboule taste better if you soak them. It takes about an hour to soak them partially before adding them to the salad, and the rest will be done by the salad itself.
STEP 2: Prepare a pot with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and add bulgur. Cook for about 15 minutes, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
CHOP THE SPICES AND VEGGIES
STEP 3: Wash parsley leaves, shake off the water and chop them. Repeat the process with fresh mint.
STEP 4: Dice the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion into small, bite-sized pieces. If you are using cherry tomatoes, slice them into halves.
STEP 5: In a large bowl, combine the cooled bulgur, chopped parsley, mint leaves, diced tomatoes, cucumber, and onion.
DRESS AND SEASON
STEP 6: Add salt and black pepper according to taste. Fresh lemon juice and olive oil.
STEP 7: Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil over the salad. Use a large spoon or your hands to gently toss everything together, ensuring the dressing coats all the ingredients.
STEP 8: Set aside for about 20-30 minutes before serving. Taboule oriental salad will taste much better if you give the flavors a chance to fuse together with bulgur.
Things worth remembering
- Taboule oriental salad will taste better and will also be healthier when prepared with organic olive oil.
- Did you know that chilling tomatoes might affect their aroma? Here’s the deal with cooling tomatoes – it could actually tone down their taste! Those flavor-packed compounds they’ve got are not fans of temperatures below 12°C (53.6°F). You should keep the tomatoes in the refrigerator only if you mean to cook them.
- Keep in mind that parsley is the main ingredient in the salad, so be generous with it. Besides the freshness that it adds to the salad, parsley leaves are also a real health supporter! Packed with antioxidants, parsley defends against stress in your body and might lower cancer risks. Plus, it helps maintain and build your bones with quite impressive loads of vitamin K. Feeling puffy? Parsley’s a natural diuretic, helping beat bloating and keeping blood pressure in check. Bottom line – don’t save on parsley!
- The cooked bulgur and raisins will soak the taste and aromas of other ingredients; that’s why the salad will taste much better when you give it enough time to settle. In fact, serving it the next day will make it beyond delicious.
Store taboule oriental salad in the refrigerator for up to three days.
It should be stored in an airtight container or bowl covered with plastic foil.
We don’t recommend freezing taboule salad; it’s so simple to make that freezing makes no sense. Cucumbers in the salad might release a lot of liquid while being thawed, and all the rest of the ingredients in the salad are best when prepared fresh.
Taboule oriental FAQs
Yes, if you wish, you can experiment with taboule and add grilled chicken or fish to the salad. A great vegan version of taboule contains chickpeas or beans.
Some spices that pair well with taboule are turmeric, cumin, sumac and spicy red pepper.
Yes, taboule is made with bulgur (parboiled and dried wheat groats), which contains gluten.
If you want your taboule salad to be gluten-free, you can replace the bulgur with cooked quinoa.
Although parsley seeds are said to possess some laxative properties, parsley leaves won’t make you poop.
To fix the bitterness of taboule oriental salad, you might want to:
- Use less parsley or a milder one.
- Chop parsley and mint into smaller pieces.
- Adjust the dressing to make sure the lemon juice is balanced with the oil and other flavors.
- Use fresh and high-quality ingredients to ensure the best flavors.
- If possible, remove any bitter parts you can find.
- Allow the salad to sit for a while, which might help the flavors meld and mellow out any bitterness.
To keep the taboule from getting soggy, you might want to:
- Salt the tomatoes and cucumber before adding it to the salad
- Cook the bulgur less time and allow it to soak the moisture from other ingredients
- Thoroughly dry the parsley and mint before adding it to the salad.
Bulgur is a whole grain made from durum wheat. The kernels are boiled, dried, and cracked into different sizes for quick cooking. It’s a nutritious and convenient option for dishes like salads, pilafs, and soups.
Depending on your nutritional needs, both bulgur and rice can be healthy choices. Bulgur typically offers more fiber and protein, while rice can provide energy and certain nutrients. If you want whole-grain options with higher fiber and protein, bulgur may be a better choice. However, bulgur is made from wheat and contains gluten, while rice is gluten-free.
Bulgur is a whole grain made from cracked wheat kernels that have been partially cooked through boiling, drying, and cracking. It still needs to be cooked or soaked in hot water to be fully edible and enjoyable.
More delicious traditional foods
Taboule oriental salad
- 2 cups bulgur
- 1 cucumber
- 0,8 lb tomato
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 small onion
- 1,5 cups fresh parsley leaves
- 2 cups fresh mint leaves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Soak the raisins in a double amount of water an hour before making the salad.
- Place the bulgur together with a double amount of water and pinch of salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Slowly simmer for another 15 minutes until the bulgur soaks in the water. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Wash the parsley leaves and fresh mint and shake off the water. Chop into smal pieces.
- Dice the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion into small, bite-sized pieces. If you are using cherry tomatoes, slice them into halves.
- In bowl, mix together the bulgur, vegetables, raisins with freshly choped parsley and mint leaves.
- Add lemon juice and olive oil, together with a pinch of salt and a tsp of black pepper.
- Using a large spoon or your hands, toss everything together and allow to settle and bulgur to soak all the aromas.
- Bon apetit!
- Use fresh ingredients and organic olive oil. Taboule oriental salad tastes delicious with a healthier whole-grain bulgur.
- Don’t cook the bulgur for too long to avoid making it too soggy. The tomatoes and cucumbers will release some water, which will be additionally soaked by bulgur.
- For a quicker version, use whole-grain couscous.
- Don’t spare mint and parsley leaves; these are the ingredients that make taboule salad special from other salads and also bring many health benefits.
- Use room-temperature stored tomatoes; chilled tomatoes from the fridge might lose their aroma over time if stored for longer.
- Give the salad enough time to settle, and the aromas of spices and vegetables fully fuse with the bulgur.
- Skip the raisins if you don’t like the taste.
- Explore different aromas with spices like turmeric, sumac, or flaked chilly.
- Keep the salad in the refrigerator for up to three days, ensuring that it’s stored in an airtight container or covered with plastic foil.
Featured at Creative Jewish Mom
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