This lentil tabbouli salad is the perfect autumn spin off of the classic Middle Eastern salad famous for its delicious combination of parsley, mint, and wheat burgul soaked in lemon and olive oil. I substituted the traditional wheat bulgur grain for a gluten-free and protein rich option: lentils! Everyone in my family loves tabbouli, and for good reason. With its aromatic herbs of parsley and mint, juicy tomatoes and pomegranate, cool crunchy cucumbers, and the lemon dressing coating tender lentils, this salad is worth every effort it takes to prepare it. Tabbouli has always been my absolute FAVORITE salad. This version will definitely be a hit on your table and the leftovers will be great for the next day’s lunch.
Substituting the bulgur for other super food grains is a great way to change up the salad routine and introduce new flavors and foods into your diet. My kids LOVE tabbouli so I try to sneak in various ingredients like spinach or kale to get them to enjoy different foods. You could also check out my recipe for quinoa tabbouli which is very filling and tastes exactly the same as the original tabbouli, except it has more protein. Because I am making this salad in the fall, I include the beautiful pomegranates that are in season as they add a bright splash of color and juicy, tart flavor to this salad.
Preparing the ingredients
The love in making tabbouli starts with careful preparation and quality ingredients. Because the main base of the salad is the green parsley, get a good variety. I grow my own organic parsley at home, and it is VERY easy to do. Give it a try! Flat leaf parsley has the best texture, as curly parsley can be too dry and lacking in flavor. It takes some time to thoroughly wash all of the parsley leaves required to make this salad. I like to take the entire bunch of parsley and immerse it in a large bowl of cold water. I then rinse handfuls under running water and shake clean. You will be horrified at the amount of dirt that is sitting at the bottom of the bowl when you are done! It is well worth the careful washing here.
To get the leaves off the stems, I usually enlist the help of my kids. I give them a bowl for the stems to discard and they go right to town picking off all the leaves. An added bonus to this help, is that they alway get excited to eat what they make. Allowing them to help and feel like they made this meal is a bonus!
In a similar fashion, lay out the dry lentils on a large plate and pick them over for any debris, dirt, or bad legumes. Luckily, my kids also love doing this task. Let’s see until what age I can fool them into these tedious tasks!
Chopping the Salad
Making a great bowl of tabbouli consists of having a sharp knife and properly dicing all of your ingredients into cute little cubes. For the tomatoes, I cut off the top, where the stem is (and my girls or I eat the excess fruit around the stalk of course!). I then slice the tomato from top to bottom in round slices that are about 1/2 an inch thick. Then dice each slice into quarter inch squares.
For the cucumber, make two cuts all the way down the length of the cucumber in the center, stopping just before the end by about 4 inches, so as to not separate all the pieces yet. Then cut again across, and again, and again creating a lattice of slices. Then slice 1/4 inch rounds, and they will land on the chopping board in perfectly little squares according to the lattice of slices made. Do this with each cucumber. I usually just eat the base of the cucumber that wasn’t sliced. Its faster than slicing it manually 🙂
My trick to chopping enough parsley? I usually blitz it in my food processor, along with the mint leaves, and a clove of garlic. I just pulse it about 5 times and the leaves are perfectly chopped.
Once you have chopped all of your veggies, it is easy 😀 Drizzle the dressing all over the salad, toss, and sprinkle the top with the juicy gems of pomegranate kernels. Bil Hana wil Shifaa! (Egyptian phrase for: With happiness and healing!)
- 2 Persian cucumbers, diced I usually find "English" cucumbers which is similar
- 2-3 Roma Tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 c scallions, diced
- 1/2 c pomegranate kernels
- 1 c green lentils
- 2 c Italian flat leaf parsley leaves, stems removed, and finely chopped
- 1/2 c fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
For the Dressing
- 1/2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- In a pot over high- medium heat, lightly toast the lentils in 2 tbsp of oil. Do not add in any salt in this step.
- Add enough water to just cover the lentils by a centimeter. Wait for the pot to boil and reduce the heat to medium-low heat. Allow the lentils to cook until the water evaporates. Add a tsp of salt and mix in well. Allow to cool completely and refrigerate before adding to the salad.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and scallions.
- Create a crater in the center of the salad bowl and add in the cold lentils.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Add all other dressing ingredients gradually as you continue to whisk.
- Drizzle the dressing all over the salad, toss, and sprinkle the top with the red gems of pomegranate kernels.