I was in Berlin in 2004, traveling my way through neighborhoods on foot exploring the city. This was my first trip to Europe, and I was traveling alone. It is an experience I will always remember. It was also the first time I discovered tabouli. I was walking in Kreuzberg, when I came across this stand in a square that sold falafels. I asked for a wrap but ended up with more of a sandwich, on some absolutely delicious bread, with some crispy chickpea balls, tomato, onion, pickled turnip, tahini sauce, hot sauce, paprika and this crunchy delicious leafy salad that I later learned was tabouli.
Who knew that in the land of schnitzel and bratwurst, I could find one of the best falafel sandwiches I have ever had and that would start a love affair with tabouli, that I have been serving up since 2004! Tabouli (tabbouleh) is a Levantine dish made mostly of parsley with some chopped vegetables, bulgar wheat and seasoned with lemon and olive oil. Traditionally served as a meal with some hummus and pita, or can be eaten by making a boat or a wrap out of larger lettuce leaves and loading it on top.
I know what you are thinking. A parsley salad?? Yes, a parsley salad. And it’s delicious! It’s a little like the Sangria recipe in Spain, everyone makes their own version. But if you are in a Middle Eastern restaurant or Shawarma/Falafel house like Sammouna in Midland, don’t shy away from the tabouli – get it on your wrap, on your plate or in your lentil soup, its simply amazing!
Now, I have taken certain liberties with my tabouli recipe, and I hope not to offend the Lebanese/Syrian people with my version, but my guests have loved it for more than a decade. I use it for any number of things. It makes a great side salad, I do serve it with hummus and warm pita, and on falafel wraps and bowls. It’s a great topping for salads and bowls, but perhaps one of my favorite uses is to top a great plant based sausage on a bun with some spicy mustard and tabouli Yes, parsley is more than just a topping on a tomato that you just discard at your local diner. It’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients and may improve blood sugar while supporting heart, kidney, and bone health.
The great thing about parsley is that it is readily available, grows tremendously well in the garden, even in planters on a patio, and once harvested can last for quite a while. I keep all my leafy greens including parsley and other herbs, green onions, leaf lettuce and kale all fresher longer, by using a simple method of just wrapping them in a damp tea towel and keeping them in the crisper. This gives the vegetables the hydration they need and gives you more time to use them as they stay fresher much longer.
1 bunch of curly parsley
2 shallots, finely chopped
¼ red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ lemon, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic glaze
Himalayan pink salt
Cracked black pepper
Rinse and stem the parsley, chop the tips while disposing of the stems
Put parsley and all other ingredients in a small bowl and stir
Salt and pepper to taste
Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days
Traditional tabouli would have either bulgar or semolina wheat as one of the ingredients. If you are trying to keep the salad for longer time you can add ¼ cup of cooked bulgar or semolina wheat to the salad. In my house it never lasts that long.
In fact, I added it to this amazing salad bowl (below) with my hummus and guacamole and, when mixed together became the perfect dressing.
Arugula, baby spinach, black kale, tomato, carrot, red bell pepper green onion, cucumber, sheese, hemp hearts, hummus, guacamole and tabouli
Read Part One: Hummus
Read Part Two: Guacamole