How to make Tabouli like a Lebanese Grandmother
My Lebanese Sittoo (Grandmother) and Gidoo (Grandfather) owned Thomas’ Market in New Bedford, Ma aka The Whaling City for 30 years. They are known for introducing Tabouli, Hummus, and Kibee to the general public.
This is Sittoo’s famous Tabouli recipe she sold at Thomas’ Market.
The base of a delicious Tabouli is Parsley, Wheat, Cucumber, Tomato and Onion with Salt, Olive oil, Mint and Lemon for Seasoning. You can typically modify it from there.
Veggies taste the best when local. Lemon juice is best fresh-squeezed. High-quality Olive Oil is very aromatic when combined with the lemon and Mint.
The bulgar (wheat) is typically found in a Specialty or Mediterranean Market. I always recommend buying the wheat in bulk when you do find it. It will last for years when stored in a cool, dry place in a sealed container.
The texture of the Tabouli salad is key. So make sure to finely chop the parsley. It’s best when the parsley coats all of the veggies. Think snow flakes falling on your windshield. Don’t worry about each piece of parsley being the same size. Aim for dime sized chopped pieces.
The veggies should be chopped in quarter-inch cubes (excluding the onion, which should be slightly finer). The lemon juice de-seeded. And the bulgar should not be crunchy. Let the bulgar soak long enough in water so you can chew it without feeling like you’re going to crack a tooth. Detailed instructions below.
What you need to know:
Parsley – Italian flat-leaf is preferred. Make sure to wash with cold water and either dry with a salad spinner or pat it down with paper towels and let it air dry
Bulgur – Use fine bulgur – Bulgur is sold in four numbered grind sizes. #2 is the size that we recommend for the best texture. #1 works well also.
Cucumbers – any kind will do. Local is always best
Tomatoes – vine, beefsteak, plum or cherry tomatoes all work. Vine is the classic.
Green onions – fresh, oniony flavor that’s sweeter and more mellow than raw onions (picture above is made with red onion, which is delicious, but not approved by Sittoo)
Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed and de-seeded
Olive Oil – Go for high-quality extra virgin olive oil. You’ll notice the taste difference!
Crushed Mint – this adds a punch of freshness
Salt – Kosher is the best. But any type will do
Begin by putting a half cup of bulgar in a bowl. Add 1 cup of water. Let sit for 1 hour on the table. This allows the bulgar to absorb the water to give it an edible texture.
Take 1 bunch of washed and dried parsley and hold from the stems. Skim your knife over the parsley leaves to extract the leaves from the stem. Finely chop.
Tomatoes and Cucumbers – chop into small 1/4 inch cubes
Green onions – fresh, chop slighter smaller than the tomatoes and cucumbers
Squeeze the excess water from the Bulgar and add to a mixing bowl. Then add the Parsley, Cucumber, Tomato, Onion, Lemon juice, Olive oil, Mint and Salt. Stir until it’s completely mixed. Serve chilled.