Turkish Tabbouleh combines bulgur, fresh vegetables and herbs, a lemony dressing, all packed with a little heat from the spicy harissa and tomato paste. This nutrient dense and tasty salad makes this a perfect side dish for any occasion!
I’ll never forget the first time I tried Turkish Tabbouleh. I was visiting Wiesbaden, Germany’s weekly farmer’s market and stumbled across a stand selling all types of fresh salads, antipasti, vegetables, juices, smoothies; it was right up my alley! I had always loved the traditional tabbouleh bulgur salad, but this one had a red tint. I bought it, I devoured it, I loved it. This particular stand became one of my favorite places to visit in my 4 years living in Wiesbaden. Over the last few months as I we were preparing to move back to the US, I figured I’d better learn how to make this delicious salad. I asked one of the Turkish men who ran the booth for his recipe. He kind of shrugged, and gave me the basics. I went home, played with it a bit, and this is what I’ve created. Soooo good, and dare I say even more perfect then my Turkish friend’s Tabbouleh?
The secret to this dish is the Harissa paste; a traditional ingredient found in North African or Middle Eastern Cuisine consisting of a blend of chili peppers, paprika, and olive oil. This can be found in most grocery stores in the ethnic food section, or can be made at home. I was able to find some at my grocery store. It does pack a little spicy punch, but balances and flavors the dish nicely. My kids who don’t like super spicy food did not even comment on it being spicy.
This can definitely be made ahead. In fact, you will want the salad to sit in your fridge for at least a few hours before you serve. I think it tastes even better the next day, and is still delicious 3-5 days later! To make this a GF dish, substitute quinoa for bulgur and follow the directions in the notes.
Turkish Tabbouleh Salad
- 2 cups bulgur
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp harissa
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1 cup chopped cucumber
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup chopped green onion
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped mint
- Place dried bulgur into a large bowl, add boiling water.
- In a separate small bowl, mix together oil, lemon juice, tomato paste, harissa, and salt. Pour into bulgur and water mixture, mix well.
- Let stand at room temperature for about 1/2 hour, or until the bulgur has absorbed the juices and becomes nice and fluffy.
- Add in the remaining ingredients. Place in the refrigerator and let sit for at least another hour before serving.
The flavor on this dish continues to develop the longer it sits. It can be easily prepared the day before serving.
*To make this a Gluten-Free dish, substitute 1 cup quinoa for 1 cup bulgur. Boil water and quinoa together, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes until quinoa has soaked up water and is fluffy. Follow remaining directions for salad.