Lentil tabbouleh is a delicious alternative to bulgur tabbouleh; a classic Levantine salad loved worldwide for its flavor and freshness.
This recipe is easy to make, and you can serve it as a starter or as a side dish with Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern dishes such as hummus and eggplant dip.
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This lentil tabbouleh recipe is a tasty and nutritious variation of classic tabbouleh, a famous Eastern Mediterranean salad made with fresh parsley, mint, tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and soaked bulgur wheat.
We love this recipe because you can serve it as an appetizer with other small dishes such as hummus, tzatziki, avocado spread, grilled eggplant, or grilled zucchini.
Or you can have it as a fresh and nutritious side salad.
Either way, you can make lentil tabbouleh with brown or green lentils; they keep their shape better than red lentils, and they have a nice bite that reminds us of the bulgur in the original recipe.
To be fast, go for canned lentils. If you have a bit more time, you can cook dry lentils yourself.
In either case, the recipe is simple. First, chop all ingredients finely, then mix them with the lentils, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
And remember, tabbouleh's main ingredient is...drum roll. Parsley. More specifically, the flat-leaf variety, often called Italian parsley in the US. So make sure to get a couple of big bunches of fresh parsley to make this delicious lentil tabbouleh salad.
P.s. This recipe is naturally gluten-free and vegan.
Use green or brown lentils as they keep their shape when you toss them with the other ingredients and have a nice bite.
You can use either canned lentils (drain them well) or dry lentils that you cook yourself at home.
Lentil tabbouleh requires plenty of fresh flat-leaf parsley, sometimes known as Italian parsley.
This variety is native to the central and eastern Mediterranean region, including Lebanon, where tabbouleh is akin to a national dish. Parsley and mint and the two fresh herbs used in tabbouleh.
Fresh mint leaves are often combined with parsley to add even more freshness and a pleasant minty aroma to the salad.
Red ripe tomatoes. You can use most varieties, as long as they are not overripe. If your tomatoes are too seedy or too watery, we recommend draining them to remove some juice and seeds.
Green onions, scallions, or spring onions, add a mild zesty taste. You can substitute shallots or red onions for green onions; however, if you do so, we advise you to use half the quantities.
Try to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Its fruity and nutty flavor will make lentil tabbouleh ever more aromatic.
Fresh lemon is best, as used in the original recipe. It adds plenty of fresh citrus flavor.
Salt and pepper
Sea salt or kosher salt to add taste. Freshly ground black pepper for a fragrant peppery aroma.
There are no other spices in tabbouleh; however, if you want to spice things up, you can add half a teaspoon of ground cumin to this lentil tabbouleh recipe.
If you make this with dry lentils, the first step is to rinse and boil the lentils in a pot with salted water until tender. Green and brown lentils typically take 30 to 45 minutes to cook and don't need soaking.
Cut the tomato into thin slices, then chop it into small dice of about ⅕ inch each. We recommend using a serrated knife or a sharp chef's knife.
If the tomatoes are watery, transfer them into a fine-mesh strainer and let them drain for a few minutes while you chop the other ingredients.
Remove the larger stem of the parsley. Pick the mint leaves from their branch and add them to the parsley.
Finely chop parsley and mint. We recommend using a large and sharp chef's knife; however, if you don't have one, you could use a food processor, pulsing until the herbs are finely chopped.
Trim the green part off the green onions and finely chop the white part.
Add all chopped ingredients and the drained lentils to a large mixing bowl, then season with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.
Toss well until the parsley, and the lentils are evenly combined. You'll need a minute as the parsley might clump up. Serve in the same bowl or on a serving platter.
Appetizer (mezze): our favorite way to serve this lentil tabbouleh is as a starter on a large mixed platter with other delicious Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean dishes.
If you are wondering what to serve with lentil tabbouleh, then try it with:
- creamy chickpea hummus
- smoky baba ganoush (eggplant dip)
- crunchy homemade crostini or bruschetta
- olive tapenade
- zaalouk (eggplant salad)
- grilled eggplants, zucchini, or bell peppers
- Greek Tzatziki sauce
- Moroccan carrot salad
- Falafel, olives, warm pita bread, and more.
Side dish: you can also serve it as a side dish with most mains. We like to serve it in lettuce leaves.
Quinoa is an excellent alternative to lentils; it only takes 10 to 15 minutes to cook.
It's also rich in protein, nutritious, and fulfilling. Its taste and texture match the parsley, tomato, and other ingredients in this tabouli salad.
Classic Tabbouleh Salad
The original tabbouleh recipe with bulgur. This one is a classic, and we tried to be as authentic as possible.
You cannot go wrong with this one if you are looking for an authentic Eastern Mediterranean/Levantine flavor.
Check out our tabbouleh recipe.
You can make lentil tabbouleh the day before; however, if you do so, we recommend waiting to season it until shortly before serving it.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. As the lentil tabbouleh stays in the fridge, it might slightly change color and get darker as the parsley oxidizes. That's normal.
Also, you might have to drain some of the liquid from the tomatoes and add a little more olive oil on the second and third days.
More Lentil Recipes
Lentils are just awesome. Here are some more recipes for you:
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- 1 can (15 oz) lentils brown or green , rinsed and drained (or ¾ cup dry lentils)
- ½ pound tomatoes
- 3 packed cups flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- 5 scallions
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Chop it into small dice of about ⅕ inch each. We recommend using a serrated knife or a sharp chef's knife.If the tomatoes are watery, transfer them into a fine-mesh strainer and let them drain for a few minutes while you chop the other ingredients.
- Remove the larger stem of the parsley. Pick the mint leaves from their branch and add them to the parsley.Finely chop parsley and mint. We recommend using a large and sharp chef's knife; however, if you don't have one, you could use a food processor, pulsing until the herbs are finely chopped.
- Trim the green part off the green onions and finely chop the white part.
- Add all chopped ingredients and the drained lentils to a large mixing bowl, then season with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.
- Toss well until the parsley, and the lentils are evenly combined. You'll need a minute as the parsley might clump up. Serve in the same bowl or on a serving platter.