Tabbouleh or tabouli is a super fresh herby salad from the Middle East. My tabbouleh recipe is chock full with flavors of mint, lemon and garlic; the quinoa fills you up and nurtures well and the cucumber and tomatoes elevates it to a super fresh salad.
I’ve had a kick on Middle Eastern food lately (uhem read: years) and wanted to share with you one side dish that freshens up many Middle Eastern dinners. It’s just the past few years I’ve known about tabbouleh, and wow, I’ve been missing out.
What is tabbouleh or tabouli?
Tabbouleh is a fantastic herb salad, where parsley truly is the star of the show. The more the merrier! Tabbouleh is usually made with herbs (obviously), garlic, tomatoes, cucumber and bulgur. A light, garlicky vinaigrette of olive oil and lemon juice drizzled over makes this not only healthy, but fresh too.
It is a Middle Eastern salad, most known as Lebanese, but I think all the countries have their own varieties. It is said to be from the Levant region (Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Turkey etc). And no matter who claims the dish, it is absolutely delicious!
Tabbouleh with quinoa or bulgur
Ok, so many think that the star in a tabbouleh recipe is the bulgur wheat. I don’t agree with this, and many agree with me, that this is first and foremost an herb salad. The bulgur helps making it more filling and comforting, but it’s not the most important thing.
I do not use bulgur in my tabbouleh, I actually prefer quinoa. Although quinoa originates from South America, I still think tabbouleh with quinoa is getting more and more popular and widespread. So what is the difference between them?
- Quinoa is packed with healthy stuff, it is one of the few vegetables that qualifies as a complete protein source and it’s gluten free.
- Bulgur is a whole wheat grain which is high in fiber, low fat and low calorie, but not gluten free.
- You could also use couscous, which doesn’t taste much on its own, but soaks up the flavors surrounding it.
Ingredients in a tabbouleh salad
So to summarize what’s in a tabbouleh salad, here’s a list
- herbs: parsley and mint
- grains: quinoa, bulgur or couscous
- scallions or onion
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper
So simple, yet the flavor is unforgettably delicious. I fell in love with this Middle Eastern salad the first time I tried it, and now I try to incorporate it into all my Middle Eastern inspired dinners. If you are a sucker for herbs like me, then this tabbouleh recipe is definitely for you!
What to serve with this tabbouleh recipe
All Middle Eastern food is great with tabbouleh. Healthy baked falafel is a favorite, but I usually eat it with this amazing chicken shawarma. Instead of the green spring salad, you could very well make this tabbouleh salad and serve with my healthy baked lemon chicken for a super fresh and healthy meal.
I’m also thinking about swapping the quinoa in this halloumi quinoa salad with tabbouleh to herb up the situation. I actually think I can never get enough herbs. It is great for lunch along with a garlic yoghurt dressing and warm pita or naan. That’s actually what I had for lunch today.
How to make this Tabbouleh Recipe with Quinoa
It’s important to rinse the quinoa well before continuing with the recipe. I rinse it in boiling water.
Boil water in a medium sized saucepan. Add quinoa and salt and reduce temperature to let it simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until all liquid has absorbed and the quinoa is puffed up. Remember that quinoa quadruples in size once cooked. Remove from the heat and let it rest, covered, for 5 more minutes. Fluff it with a fork.
While the quinoa is cooking, make the dressing. Whisk together lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil so it won’t separate. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
Spread the quinoa out on a large parchment paper or a plate, and let it cool. Once cool, add it to a large bowl and whisk in half of the dressing. Chop the vegetables and add them to the quinoa. Mix in the rest of the dressing, season it with salt and pepper and you are done. That’s it.
Tabbouleh usually has finely chopped vegetables, but I find that I like the chunks from the tomatoes and cucumber. You may chop them however you like.
Tabbouleh or tabouli salad doesn’t necessarily need to be served with Middle Eastern food. It is a citrusy, herby and fresh quinoa salad that works with almost anything!
Did you enjoy this tabbouleh recipe? Why don’t you try these quinoa dishes too!
- Mango Chipotle Quino Bowl
- Jamaican Jerk Chicken Quinoa Bowl with Pineapple Salsa
- Cuban Quinoa Bowl with Mango and Bananas
- Halloumi Quinoa Salad with Garlic Roasted Vegetables
- Date Caramel Macchiato Breakfast Quinoa
- Bonus salad: Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint
I hope you’ll like it! Please tell me what you thought of this recipe, either in the comment section below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later.
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This recipe was originally published on Nov 20th 2017, but updated on Aug 26th 2019 for better photos and content.
Tabbouleh Recipe with Quinoa (Vegan Tabouli Salad)
- 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked 85g
- 3/4 cup water 180ml
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice About 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil 60ml
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cucumber cubed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes or other small tomatoes, cut in half
- 2 scallions chopped or sliced. May also use yellow onion. 1/2 cup
- 1 cup mint leaves finely chopped, 20g. Measured before chopped, but more is also fine.
- 1 cup parsley finely chopped, 25g. Measured before chopped, but more is also fine.
- Rinse the quinoa: It’s important to rinse the quinoa well before continuing with the recipe. Rinse it in boiling water.
- Cook the quinoa: Boil water in a medium sized saucepan. Add quinoa and salt and reduce temperature to let it simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until all liquid has absorbed and the quinoa is puffed up. Remember that quinoa quadruples in size once cooked. Remove from the heat and let it rest, covered, for 5 more minutes. Fluff it with a fork.
- Cool the quinoa: Spread the quinoa out on a large parchment paper or plate, let it cool.
- Make the dressing: Whisk together lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil so it won’t separate. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
- Mix the tabbouleh: Once quinoa has cooled, add it to a a large bowl and whisk in half of the dressing. Add the chopped vegetables, mix in the rest of the dressing, season with salt and pepper.
- Alterations: If you want more cucumber; add more cucumber, if you want more tomatoes; add more tomatoes. This is just a base, and adjust after your own preferences. Enjoy!