SEEMA Cooks: Spin a Salad with Tabbouleh

Sep/17/2021 / by Malathy Chandrasekhar

If you ask me what my favorite cuisine is, I’d really have a hard time picking one. Indian, Thai, Mexican, Italian and Middle Eastern would all be my top choices.

Pre-COVID, we used to frequent a few Mediterranean restaurants in our town. My favorite was Terra. For one, they are locally owned and operated. I dislike chain restaurants and try to avoid them as much as possible. For another, Terra prides itself on serving the freshest of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and meats. Food is freshly prepared, and their vegetarian menu is so vast, that I have a tough time making my choice. It is also tough to not gorge oneself on their freshest goodness.

What comes to mind when you think of Mediterranean cuisine? There’s of course, baba ghanoushHummus comes a close second. Freshly made pita bread/chips, grape leaves, falafel are close on their heels. Anything made with Feta cheese too! Try this colorfully crunchy grape-strawberry salad with feta. It is to die for.

One of my top favorites is tabbouleh. Also spelled tabbouli or tabouli, this visually appealing salad is colorful, healthy, and hearty. Let’s talk about the main ingredients:


This is a traditional grain of the Middle East. Quick to cook, it bulks up the tabbouleh. I love Rob’s Red Mill Red Bulgur, but you can pick any variety of your choice. If you are gluten-sensitive, consider substituting bulgur with tri-colored quinoa. The variety of bulgur I’ve picked for this recipe doesn’t need to be cooked (and that’s the way this dish is authentically prepared!). Just combine bulgur and boiling water and let soak for an hour. Drain and use. It is that simple.


This herb is the show-stealer of this recipe. Trivia: I had never eaten parsley growing up and quite disliked it when I first tasted it. Now that I grow both varieties of parsley (curly and straight leaf), I am a total fan, especially in this tabbouleh salad. You can use either curly or straight leaf parsley. Both work well. I’ve used straight leaf since the 2021 winter storm destroyed my curly parsley. The bright green lends such a sight for sore eyes.

Tomato and Cucumber

Both tomato and cucumber contain a lot of water. You don’t want to make this salad runny. While the water is boiling for the bulgur, start this recipe by first chopping the tomato and cucumber and allow it to “settle” with some salt. Before adding it to the salad, drain the liquid (and please don’t waste this delicious liquid – drink it up!) so the tabbouleh salad remains on the drier side. I use organic cucumber, so I don’t peel the skin (the skin has tons of nutrition too).

Spring Onions and Mint

These are from my garden too. Mint is optional, but I love the flavor it imparts to the salad. Plus, mint grows like a weed, so I find every excuse to add it to my foods. Spring onions (also called scallions) are lot less ‘sharp’ than regular onions, so it makes for much better tasting tabbouleh salad. I plant 3 varieties of onions every year in early spring, and the yard-to-table joy is a feeling that needs to be experienced.

Lemon Juice and Spices

The finishing touches to this salad come from these final ingredients. Use a high-quality olive oil. It will enhance the taste by several notches. You can use lime or lemon juice; I prefer the latter in this recipe. As for herbs, I’ve used ground cumin and freshly ground black pepper. You can skip but you may regret it.

Without further ado, let’s get to making this delicious Tabbouleh salad.

Why Is This Healthy?

The reasons why this dish is super-healthy is long. This salad is light on the belly, but rich in the nutrition it provides. Fiber and complex carbohydrates from bulgur, healthy fats and polyphenols from olive oil, antioxidant and flavonoid-filled parsley and mint, lycopene and phytochemicals in tomatoes, low-calorie water from cucumbers all combine to make this a dish an immune boosting recipe to fall in love with.

The recipe

This Mediterranean salad has several superlatives to describe it: colorful, filling, crunchy, delicious, nutritious are the few that come to mind. Learn how easy it is to make it at home.

Course: Appetizer, main course, salad, side dish

Cuisine: Mediterranean

Special diet: Gluten-free (if bulgur is replaced), nut-free, no added sugar, raw, vegan, vegetarian

Prep time: 30 minutes

Resting time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Calories:189 kcal


  • 1/2 cup bulgur/ Use tri-color quinoa for gluten-free
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup cucumber. fine cut. Unpeeled, if organic
  • 3/4 cup tomato. finely chopped
  • 3 cups parsley, destemmed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, destemmed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt – or to taste
  • 3 tbsp lemon jjuice – or to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder, freshly ground


  1. Boil water on the stovetop. Add to bulgur, cover and allow it to soak for 1 hour.
  2. Drain and set aside to cool. If using tri-colored quinoa, cook quinoa in water and fluff it with a fork and let cool when done.
  3. While the bulgur/quinoa is being made, finely chop cucumber and tomatoes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and allow it to stand until other prep is going on. Drain out the liquid (drink it up!)
  4. Destem parsley and mint. Wash and towel dry (or use a salad spinner). Finely chop the greens and compost the thicker stems. You can use a food processor to make it easy on yourself.
  5. Finely chop spring onions.
  6. To a large mixing bowl, add finely chopped parsley and mint.
  7. Add spring onions.
  8. Add drained tomato and cucumber pieces. Add freshly ground black pepper and cumin powder.
  9. Add drained bulgur or cooked/fluffed tri-color quinoa.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, remaining salt and lemon juice. Add it to the bowl.
  11. Mix well and taste for salt and lemon and adjust to taste. Allow the salad to sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.


Serve this as a mezze (a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in Europe and the Middle East) along with baba ghanoush and hummus.

*Use organic ingredients wherever possible

For the full recipe, go to

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