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Taboule - variations on a theme (and a question)

  • r

I just got back from the middle east where I feasted on tabule throughout my trip...
I made it myself for the first time this evening - flat leaf parsley, sweet onion and tomato and flavored with olive oil, half a lemon and S+P along with a quarter cup of whole wheat couscous.

So... are there variations to this? or have I mastered this dish?

The other question is: is there a quicker, more effective way to chopping parsley than doing it by hand? I know you can do it in a food processor but I don't have one. Can it be done in a blender?


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  1. For the parsley, put the leaves in a small cup and stick your scissors in there and snip away. You said you used couscous, I thought tabbouleh was made with bulgur.

    1. To me tabbouleh has always been all about the mint, and yes, made with bulgur wheat.


      1. I have a food processor but prefer to use a knife and cutting board to chop the parsley. Goes pretty fast and I think I'm just about as fast as the food processor if you include the rinsing and cleaning time of the food processor. I use flat and or curly leaf parsley.

        4 Replies
        1. re: scubadoo97

          how do you cook the bulgar wheat? ... i had no idea that that was what was used.
          Axa- what proportion of parsely to mint would you suggest?

          1. re: rbc

            rbc, bulgar isn't cooked, it's soaked in water then drained through cheesecloth. I really squeeze it to get it as dry as I can. I use about two times more parsley than mint (1 cup parsley and 1/2 cup mint), but I really like mint. I've seen recipes call for 2 cups parsley and 1/2 cup mint. I think tabbouleh is fun to make because there isn't any hard and fast rule, it's what you like. I prefer flat leaf parsley in tabbouleh, but again, it's what works for you!

            1. re: Axalady

              Bughur isn't cooked for taboulé because it is precooked (parboiled) wheat. I make it far more herb/veg than wheat, unlike most supermarket preparations. That is what I learned from my Lebanese friends, and it makes taboulé a nutritional powerhouse!

            2. re: rbc

              I usually buy two large bunches of parsley and one of mint. I use about a cup of fine bulgur. Cover with water and soak for ~30 min. I add lemon juice for the acid and EVOO. Tomatoes and green onions go well. Finely diced cucumbers san seeds give a nice crunch and is optional. I like a touch of cumin in mine but I love cumin. Yeah I even but it in my hummus

          2. All the stuff you mentioned, plus cucumber, bell pepper, mint, garbanzo beans, green onion tops and a little finely minced jalapeno. I also like to play around with the spices. Cumin, sometimes, a little cinamom or fenugreek or cardamom. Parsley, IMO, shouldn't be done in a processor, as it's a very short distance to paste. Rolling the sprigs into a tight roll then slicing, makes it alot easier. If you're looking for a gadget to do this, get a Moulinex herb mincer. It looks like a rotary cheese grater, only without the top/pusher bar, and with rotary knives instead of the grating wheel.

            1. I discovered that using chicken broth instead of plain water for soaking the bulgar wheat, balances the lemon and tomato tang. I use quite a lot of fresh lemon juice and lemon zest in my tabouli.

              1 Reply
              1. re: donali

                I use a mezzaluna shaped knife (it isn't a real mezzaluna) for the parsley. Yes, cooking the bulghar in broth is a good tip, it is a variation done sometimes in traditional Levantine cooking as well.

              2. rbc, the thing about chopping the parsley, mint, scallions etc by hand is that how long it takes is just exactly how long you need to let your bulgur wheat soak in cold water. Chop while the wheat soaks (some music here is nice). Then put the wheat in a sieve, run more cold water over it, and mash every bit of water out of it. You already have everything chopped and waiting, so the time works out perfectly and you just stir everything together---wheat, chopped stuff, lemon juice, a little olive oil, salt.

                1. An Armenian friend taught me to soak the bulgur in tomato juice

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: EllenMM

                    Thank you all so much for all of the helpful hints. I made some tabuleh last night (no grain - had nothing on hand), and it wasn't so good.

                    Looking forward to going grocery shopping otnight to buy everything and start again!

                    1. re: rbc

                      In Paula Wolfert's Cookbook, "Mediterranean Cooking", she spices the tabbouleh with cinnamon, allspice, red pepper, and nutmeg. Not too much, just a whiff, but it gives it a real presence.

                      Beyond that, I like to use bits of mango or pomegranate seeds.

                      1. re: MarkC

                        Pomegranate seeds are great in tabbouleh, esp w/lots of fresh mint. I like tiny diced red onion too.