Truth be told, I've never really been a fan of tabbouleh (pronounced ta-boo-lee). Despite its popularity, store bought versions didn't live up to my expectations. I often wondered if making a homemade version might change my opinion. Curiosity got the best of me one day, as I sat in my kitchen thinking of ways to build on those traditional flavors and make the dish a bit more interesting. I definitely succeeded. This cauliflower rice tabbouleh is a game changer.
What is Tabbouleh?
Tabbouleh is a traditional Middle Eastern salad made mostly of chopped parsley, mint, onions, tomatoes, bulgar wheat and seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice. It's usually served as a side dish and goes really well with other accompaniments such as hummus, flatbread or pita bread, roasted or marinated vegetables or in sandwiches.
Using Cauliflower Rice in Tabbouleh
Apparently, I'm not the first one to think of using cauliflower rice in tabbouleh. It's a good substitute because the shape and texture mimic tiny grains of bulgar wheat.
In general, I find raw cauliflower to be very bland. However, roasting or toasting it... completely different story. I sauté the cauliflower in a frying pan for just under 5 minutes on high heat. That will be enough time to bring out that roasted flavor while ensuring the cauliflower retains its texture and holds up in the salad.
Flavor Components and Dressing
I prefer using shallots over onions in this recipe because I just happen to love the mild slightly garlicky flavor they possess. You could also use red or green onions if you prefer. I add cucumbers for additional crunch and complexity (and because they go so well with the tomatoes).
I don't use as much parsley as many recipes for tabbouleh call for. There's just something about eating chunks of parsley that does not appeal to me. I found that just one large bunch of parsley provided exceptional taste with an overall pleasing texture. The parsley, shallots and mint together with the simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing was so fresh, bright and invigorating.
I was so impressed with how the overall flavor turned out. It's the perfect springtime salad and would be amazing whenever you feel the need to give your taste buds a lift (especially after a long winter of rich, earthy foods).
This cauliflower rice tabbouleh salad makes the perfect appetizer or light lunch. Serve it at dinner with whole grain breads or grains, veggies, potatoes, lentils or your favorite plant-based protein.
Cauliflower Rice Tabbouleh
- food processor
- 3-4 cups cauliflower rice I used packaged riced cauliflower
- 1 bunch parsley recommend curly parsley
- handful mint leaves
- 1 large shallot or 2 small shallots quartered
- 1 small cucumber peeled and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
- 1 ripe tomato chopped into ¼ inch cubes
- 1-2 pinches coriander
- 1 pinch ginger
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ tsp pink himalayan salt you can substitute regular coarse salt
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper
- Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.
- Add the cauliflower rice and saute for about 3-5 minutes until cauliflower just begins to soften and carmelize. *(Do not overcook. Cauliflower rice should still be slightly firm).
- Remove the cauliflower from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- In a food processor add the parsely, mint, shallot, coriander and ginger and pulse until chopped very fine. Transfer to a large bowl.
- To the bowl add the cucumbers, tomatoes, and cooled cauliflower rice.
- In a small bowl make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, salt,pepper and remaining olive oil.
- Add the dressing and adjust seasonings accordingly.
- Top the salad with more mint leaves and an extra drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice if desired.