…. soon to be known as the BEST tabbouleh you’ve ever tasted.
I’ve talked a bit before about how when I lived in the Middle East, I never really had a true appreciation for some of their amazing dishes that I do now. Don’t get me wrong – I loved a good shawarma just as much as the locals did, but my family always tended more towards the curries that our Indian friends would make for us. Curry spice blends made from freshly ground spices, meat and veggies marinated to perfection…. it doesn’t get much better than that!
Tabbouleh’s always been a pretty basic salad in my mind, or a side dish, as it’s served in most traditional Arabic meals. I don’t know many people who like to sit down and devour a big bowl of chopped parsley, and at the same time, I always prefer my salads to be heavier on the veggies than the grains so a bulgur-heavy tabbouleh never had much appeal to me either.
Over the years I’ve made up my own versions (like this tuna and quinoa tabbouleh) that have a more balanced mixture of ingredients. Just recently, I felt randomly inspired to create a remixed tabbouleh better than every one before, and was so thrilled with the results that I’m bursting to share the recipe with you.
First, let’s talk about the grain (or lack thereof). Rather than bulgur (aka cracked wheat) that’s used in traditional tabbouleh, I’ve swapped it for cauliflower rice. This makes the recipe both paleo and gluten-free, and also reduces cooking time to zero which I’m sure we can all appreciate in the summer.
Next up: The produce. There’s cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, finely diced red onion, fresh mint, and obviously parsley – all of which all contribute crunch, crispness and summery fresh flavour. Adding more veggies adds volume without that heaviness that comes with mostly grain-based salads, not to mention fibre and a bunch of valuable vitamins and minerals.
Finally, the finishing touches: A smattering of hemp seeds as a source of healthy fat and…. wait for it, because this is quite possibly my favourite part… dried apricots! Dice them up nice and small, and every bite that one happens to be hiding in becomes a sweet little surprise. Season the whole thing with za’atar (which is dead easy to make yourself if you can’t find it), toss it in a simple lemon vinaigrette, and you’ve got an absolute beauty of a salad. Did I mention that appeases the needs of people with vegan, paleo, grain-free, dairy-free, pretty-much-anything-else-free eating styles? We’re winning the summer potluck game here, friends.
Protein-wise, I’ve enjoyed this tabbouleh in many forms. My faves have been:
- topped with sliced hard boiled eggs
- tossed with crispy roasted chickpeas
- mixed with flaky sockeye salmon
OH! And possibly best of all, portions of this recipe are very generous. It makes about 7 cups worth, and because some of you have been asking lately, I calculated the nutrition data for this recipe. You’ll see it added to the recipe notes below. Grab a big bowl! ?
Ultimate Cauliflower Rice Tabbouleh
Ingredients (about 7 cups)
For the dressing:
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- pinch of sea salt and black pepper
For the rest:
- 1/2 head cauliflower (about 300g total)
- 1 small bunch of flat parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 English cucumber, diced
- 1 small carrot, julienne cut
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 2 tbsp minced red onion
- 2 tbsp za’atar (found in the spice aisle, or make your own!)
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds
- 5 dried apricots, finely chopped
- to garnish: grilled zucchini and lemon wedges
Whisk or shake together the dressing in a jar. You’ll have leftovers which can be stored in the fridge and used on other salads.
Break the cauliflower into small florets and pulse them in the food processor in batches until they resemble rice. Transfer to a large bowl.
Chop all remaining ingredients as directed above and add them to the same bowl. Season to taste with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Drizzle a few tablespoons of dressing on top and allow the tabbouleh to sit for 5-10 minutes so that flavours can intensify.
Serve along with grilled zucchini and lemon wedges, if desired.
So tell me…. do you have any great tabbouleh recipes? Or any favourite interesting salad mix-ins these days?