Paleo Tabbouleh Salad (i.e. Tabouli)
Tabbouleh is one of my husband's favorite dishes. I actually remember us making an enormous bowl of it at his apartment when we were first dating and bickering over how much lemon juice to put into it. For the record, he was right—it needed more lemon. (Someone explain to me why I can't remember anyone's name but I remember that stupid pseudo-fight about a salad that happened nine years ago.)
This common side salad (sometimes spelled "tabouli") spans the whole Middle Eastern universe from Iraq to Jordan to Lebanon. It's typically made with loads of fresh parsley, mint, bulgar, onions, olive oil and lemon juice. And then often you'll see it with some bonus ingredients like tomato, cucumber and garlic.
It's a simple classic, and this paleo version is extremely close to O.G. tabbouleh. Honestly, roasted cauliflower rice stands in so well for the traditional bulgar/couscous that you might not even know if I didn't tell you it was grain-free.
One other thing I love about this recipe is that all the chopping and prep can be done while the cauliflower is roasting. Your prep time nestles right in there so there's no wasted time. Start-to-finish, you can get this together in about 40 minutes maximum and probably also manage to make this Shawarma-Spiced Chicken to go with it.
Paleo Tabbouleh Salad (i.e. Tabouli)
paleo, whole30, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian | serves 4
- about 4 cups raw cauliflower, riced (you can buy pre-packaged cauliflower rice or use a grater/food processor to make your own)
- 1-2 T olive oil
- 2 cups cucumber, diced
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 2+ cups fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped (about 1 large bunch, using both the leaves and stems)
- 1/2 cup green onions, sliced thinly (about 4 stalks, using both the white and green parts)
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped (about 1 small bunch like those packaged herbs)
- kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil (break out the good stuff)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 medium-sized garlic cloves, grated with a microplane or minced finely
- optional: 1/2 tsp ground cumin (or more, to taste)
- optional: cayenne pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. On a lined baking sheet (or two), toss the cauliflower rice with a little olive oil and kosher salt and spread in a single layer on the sheet (don't overcrowd the pan). Bake for 25 minutes or so, stirring halfway, until the cauliflower is lightly toasted. Let cool fully.
- While the cauliflower is in the oven, mix up the dressing. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice until it emulsifies, then add the grated garlic. Add the optional cumin and cayenne pepper if you like. Let the dressing hang out while you chop the rest of the ingredients so the raw garlic has a chance to mellow a little.
- Once your cauliflower rice has cooled, you can assemble the tabbouleh! Mix all the salad ingredients together and then toss with the dressing.
- Since you haven't added much salt or pepper yet, do that now so you can taste and adjust if needed.
- This tabbouleh is best served right away, but the leftovers also keep pretty well overnight (if you have any leftovers).
- If you like tabbouleh, you'll certainly like Fattoush. It's another herb-heavy Middle Eastern salad I'm currently obsessed with.
- This salad pairs really well with this Shawarma-Spiced Chicken!
- You can't go overboard with the parsley in this recipe. Lebanese tabbouleh, in particular, is almost all parsley and the rest of the ingredients are very secondary. Feel free to even double the parsley if you like your tabbouleh with extra greens (you might need to make a little extra dressing).