In warmer weather, we are drawn to lighter foods and crispier, fresher textures. Gone are the heavy Sunday roasts and cream-laden puddings; they are replaced with light, refreshing summer salads and fruit for dessert. When our British weather also starts to heat up and we have scorcher weekends, we also love nothing more than firing up the BBQ (i.e. little charcoal camper-style tinfoil grill or, if you’re lucky, a larger gas grill) and enjoying barbequed food along with said healthy summer salads. But if your definition of a salad is a bit of lettuce topped with tomato and cucumber and a squirt of salad cream, that’s about to get real boring real fast! Spice up your summer with this Lebanese-inspired simple tabbouleh. Let’s get started!
Where did tabbouleh originate?
Tabbouleh hails from the Eastern Mediterranean in the countries of Lebanon and Syria. It’s traditionally made with finely chopped parsley, tomato, mint, onion, soaked bulgar wheat, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and sweet pepper.
There are some variations on the recipe but in the Middle East, parsley is the main ingredient so it’s a green, vibrant, fresh, and tasty salad. Western adaptations of the recipe often use more wheat than herbs but traditional recipes use more greenery.
Traditionally, it’s served to be a side dish as part of a mezze and would be served alongside other dishes like hummus, baba ghanoush, and pita bread.
The name derives from the Levantine Arabic word “tabbūle” from the Arabic “tābil,” which means “dip.”
In Lebanon, they love their tabbouleh so much there’s a yearly festival for it! The Lebanese National Tabbouleh Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in the month of July.
Another fact that many people don’t often know about Lebanon is that it has many different main religions and is the most religiously diverse society in the Middle East. In the 1930s, in fact, over 51% of the population was Christian. Today, the two main religions are Christianity (Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Melkite, and Protestant) making up 35% of the population and Islam (Shia and Sunni) making up 65% of the population.
More interesting facts about the religious population of Lebanon and its relationship to government are that the president of the country has to be elected, as convention dictates, from the Maronite Christian population as a person at least twenty-five years old. The prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of Parliament must be a Shia Muslim. Thus, you have all three representations in the highest levels of power.
Enough of the history and current events lesson! Without further ado, here’s our delicious recipe!
Jazz up your summer BBQ with this inexpensive and simple Middle Eastern-inspired salad.
- Bulgur wheat (25g per person)
- Tomatoes – diced (1 per person)
- Pack of fresh flat-leaf parsley – finely chopped
- ½ Lemon – juiced
- Splash of olive oil
- Salt and pepper (for seasoning)
- Optional – raisins/berries, pomegranate seeds, chopped radish, diced onion
- Boil the bulgur wheat as per directions on the packet. Allow it to cool a bit.
- Combine the bulgur wheat with the remaining ingredients.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve.
As you can see, our recipe is a variation on its Middle Eastern counterpart but it’s no less delicious. This version will have more wheat so is more filling as a side dish – or as part of a wonderful mezze. It’s packed with healthy, nutrient-rich ingredients and heart-healthy fats. Feel free to adapt the recipe to your taste and try out the optional ingredients.
What are your favourite world-inspired summer recipes? Let us know on our social media what you’ll be cooking up this summer!