Spring Tabbouleh

Spring Tabbouleh Recipe


I'll start with a confession. I avoid parsley. It's not that I hate it, or won't eat it - nothing quite that dramatic. I just don't love it in the same way I love chives or basil, rosemary or thyme. Many of you are familiar with tabbouleh, the Middle Eastern grain-based salad. It features parsley prominently alongside tomatoes, lemon juice and mint. As I dropped bags overflowing with peas, asparagus, and farm-fresh eggs onto my kitchen counter after a Sunday morning trip to the Marin market, I thought a spring-inspired take on tabbouleh would make a nice meal. Chives would stand in for the parsley, and the asparagus and peas would edge out the tomatoes.

For those of you who haven't cooked with bulgur (cracked wheat) before, you're missing out. I know many are deterred by grains in part because they are perceived as having exhausting cooking times. Not so with bulgur. Bulgur based salads (and other preparations) can be fantastically delicious and quick to make. In this case the bulgur cooks in a flash while you are prepping the other ingredients.

Tabbouleh Recipe


There are so many ways you can build on a simple bulgur salad like this. For starters you might cook the bulgur in liquid other than water. I can imagine a thinned-out tomato juice, flavorful broth, or some sort of white wine spiked base would be fun to play around with. And feel free to experiment with other seasonal ingredients.

- More Bulgur Recipes -
- More Asparagus Recipes -
- More Quick Recipes -

Spring Tabbouleh Recipe

Bulgur comes in different sizes - look for fine or medium bulgur for this recipe. Larger coarse bulgur takes longer to soften up, and you might need to boil it. As you can see in the photo - I stumbled on a single bunch of stunning purple asparagus and used a bit of it alongside the more readily available green asparagus. The interesting thing about the purple asparagus is that it tasted sweeter and was more tender in its raw form than much of the green asparagus I've tasted. The purple asparagus will also lose its vibrant purple flair when cooked so keep that in mind if you ever encounter it. I sliced it extra thin and used it raw here.

1 cup fine bulgur
1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch segments
1 cup peas, freshly shelled or frozen

1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with 2 big pinches of salt
1 lemon, juice only
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch chives, finely chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped*

Fill a medium sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. You are going to use some of this water over the bulgur (to cook it), and the rest to blanch (quick-boil) the peas and asparagus.

Put the bulgur in a medium bowl, add boiling water to the surface of the grains and let it stand for about 15 minutes, just until tender. Drain and press out any remaining water and toss with a couple pinches of salt. Set aside.

Return the saucepan to the heat and bring the remainder of the water back up to a boil. Salt the water and cook the asparagus and peas for just about 20 seconds, just long enough for them to brighten up and lose a bit of their bite. Drain, run under colder water to stop the cooking, and add to the bulger.

For the dressing, whisk the garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil together and season with more salt if needed.

To the bulgur, asparagus, and peas add 1/2 the chives and 1/2 the walnuts. Toss with a big splash of the dressing. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Adjust the seasoning as well at this point. Garnish with the remaining chives, walnuts, and chopped egg and serve.

Serves 4 - 6.


*For great hard-boiled eggs place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready. When the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so - long enough to stop the cooking. Crack the shells, peel and enjoy.

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Comments


Sandy McClure

I would LOVE it if you'd update your Web site so that the printable versions of the recipes include the photos, which are wonderful and add a lot to the "cookbook" experience. Thanks.

April 14, 2008
 

I'd have to disagree with Sandy. I like just printing out the recipe when necessary -- I don't want a bunch of unnecessary photos edging out my recipe (and taking my ink).

Thanks for all the great cooking ideas..

April 14, 2008
 

This looks delicious and I've recently become a huge fan of tabbouleh for quick dinners. No local asparagus here (Iowa) yet, but with the warmer weather this week that may soon change.

April 14, 2008
 

This looks delicious, I have some bulgar wheat at the back of the cupboard and had been wondering what I could do with it (I make a summery lamb and mint salad with it, or use it in place of breadcrumbs in meatballs), I think I'll give this a go.

April 14, 2008
 

To add to Simon and Sandy's comments - I prefer to have pictures with my recipes. First someone else's and then if it becomes a favorite - my own. Probably there are strong opinions on both sides - but maybe a new option could be "Print Recipe w/ Photos."

April 14, 2008
 

glad to know i'm not the only one who shuns the parsley! i usually just replace it with chives, even though the taste changes a bit. love the addition of all those vegetables to the tabbouleh, looks delish!

April 14, 2008
 

Tom - Ponderosa Design

Nice adaptation.

Bulgur's been a new regular in our pantry as well, and we're finding it irresistible. So is our 18 mo. old son!

The asparagus is close here in Oregon, we'll have to give it a shot soon.

Thanks for simple gourmet for the working parent.

April 14, 2008
 

Let me look into a "print with photo" solution. :) -h

April 14, 2008
 

I totally agree about the parsley! I think it overwhelms, rather than complements, most dishes. It's probably the reason I tend to avoid tabbouleh - I'm done after a bite or two. This salad looks so delicious! I love the use of bulgur here. It's like the perfect lunch :)

April 14, 2008
 

Marry me

April 14, 2008
 

This looks delicious and wonderfully seasonal.

Thanks Heidi for inspiring me to integrate whole grains other than brown rice into my food rotation -- bulgur, amaranth, quinoa, millet, farro, teff -- with all these new-to-me grains I feel like the world is my oyster! (or something like that :) )

April 14, 2008
 

Kelci

This looks delicious! Now that it's finally warming up here in Vermont, our spring vegetables are starting to make an appearance at the market - I'll have to try this soon!

I totally agree on the parsley. I take a cue from my favorite salsa recipe and substitute cilantro for parsley, and lime juice for the lemon, and toss in a quarter of finely-diced red onion to boot.

April 14, 2008
 

Finally, someone else who isn't a fan of parsley! For some reason, I just don't dig it as much as other herbs. I like your use of chives here.

Farmer's Markets in the South Bay are kinda bland. I drove up to the Ferry Building yesterday with the intent of going crazy at the farmer's market ... only to discover it was on Saturday. Whoops! I didn't know Marin had one on Sunday, will try that as my substitute next time :-)

April 14, 2008
 

Love this new take on tabbouleh; sounds like it would be delicious.

April 14, 2008
 

Oooh it's just barely warm enough here in Boston to start believing it may actually be spring! This looks lovely. I don't often eat eggs, but with spring comes farmer's markets even here in the Northeast, with farm fresh eggs. Yum.

April 14, 2008
 

I love the addition of the asparagus. And the chives are lush in my garden right now, so I'm making this soonest.

April 14, 2008
 

I love bulgur and make it all the time in summer. I like to do an "all-green" version with parsley (sorry!), scallions, cucumbers and fresh mint. It is totally yummy.
I'm going to try this version too!! Thx!

April 14, 2008
 

oh heidi - what a beautiful photo. again. really,

this is yet another reminder of how to put beautiful, seasonal food together for a taste explosion...

loving you....

April 14, 2008
 

I know what's for dinner tonight! I'm with you on the parsley so I usually don't make tabbouleh but you've revitalized it for me!

April 14, 2008
 

Funny that there are so many non-parsley people! I am not a huge fan, but I must say that I do like it in tabbouleh. Tabbouleh is actually (traditionally, at least) an herb salad - the bulgur is secondary. This salad looks pretty tasty though - might have to give it a try! I also like my bulgur with carrots, lemon, mint, and green olives...

April 14, 2008
 

I love Tabbouleh as well. It is such a nice treat on hot days. :-) Creative ingredients in this tabbouleh! I never would have thought of adding in eggs.
My favorite way to make it now is with quinoa. YUM! Here is my current recipe for Quinoa tabbouleh. http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/04/quinoa-tabbouleh.html

April 14, 2008
 

Pleas do not change your web site, Sorry Sandy, it is perfect just the way it is.

April 14, 2008
 

Pleas do not change your web site, Sorry Sandy, it is perfect just the way it is.

April 14, 2008
 

Tori

looks great! asparagus in the frig right now.. as soon as I boil the eggs I will put it together. of course i always have to down size for the"one" person!

April 14, 2008
 

Heidi - this is one of my favourite uses for extra veggies - making "non-traditional" tabbouleh, using everything from leftover rice to cous-cous, and flavouring with everything from shaved fennel to caraway seeds, plus leftover veggies (summer squash rocks raw.)

I am leaving right now, as I know just the place for glorious asparagus today, and I *must* try this recipe.

Awesome blog, you continually inspire me.

April 14, 2008
 

what a wonderful recipe..
I love Tabbouleh and bulgur..

Thank you !!

April 14, 2008
 

Just picked up some amazing asparagus at the farmers market here in sacramento. fresh organic eggs too. i'm sooo excited to cook this for dinner. my husband and kids should be pleased....gorgeous pictures as always.

April 14, 2008
 

Sarah

Heidi - On a Food Network program (Good Eats I think) the chef said that purple in asparagus is a sign of a higher sugar content - resulting in a sweeter taste. Ever since then I've always kept my eyes peeled for the purplest asparagus out there! I wonder if the same can be said for Brusells sprouts? Nice recipe - so nice and fresh - just like spring!

April 14, 2008
 

GORGEOUS TABBOULEH!! Full of succulent spring ingredients :0)

April 14, 2008
 

thatgirlinnewyork

Lovely recipe! I will say that I actually like parsley--flat Italian parsley is very good when chopped fine, and is a flavor I come to expect when I think of tabbouleh. Do consider trying fine-chopped parsley as it is considered an essential herb for clearing one's system as we approach a new season (and different variety) of eating.

April 14, 2008
 

Yum, I love bulgur and asparagus. Asparagus is real cheap around here now and I only discovered bulgur wheat a few months ago, but I'm addicted! Such a great crunch, so nutritious and best of all, it cooks fast! Excellent spring recipe!

- The Peanut Butter Boy

April 14, 2008
 

Valerie

I'm adding my vote for a "print with photo" option. I love flipping through my recipe print outs and seeing inspiration! And your photos are definitely that!

April 14, 2008
 

Erin in AK

Gosh, spring just can't seem to get a foothold here. Another 6 inches of snow when we woke up this morning. However....you've got me yearning. Since we don't have an asparagus crop up here at any time, I may have to invest in some imports at the store today.

In the meantime, we're all waiting for June 1...the official start of our gardening season. Of course, no guarantee it won't snow after that too!

To add my opinion...I love the pictures and would like the option to add them to my recipe printouts.

Thanks!

April 14, 2008
 

Yum - this looks so pretty!

Although I *am* a fan of parsley, sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming in traditional tabbouleh. This sounds like a nice change.

Thanks for another great recipe, Heidi!

April 14, 2008
 

mz priss from austin

I grew up eating tabbouleh. Our next door neighbors and best friends were Lebanese. The version they made did not contain parsely. There was mint, but not a huge amount so what we ate was more grain and not that overwhelming green. I was surprised when I had it at restaurants as it was usually mostly parsley. In the summer there is always a bowl of it in the fridge.

I also like fruit tabbouleh. I make the bulgur with diluted apple, lemon, ginger juice I get at the market and I add peaches or nectarines, organic grapes, chopped pear or apple, walnuts and mint. I also add a little olive oil cause I like the consistency and flavor - but that is really optional. Its hot in Texas in the summer and its great to have in the fridge - very cooling!

April 14, 2008
 

I love your blog. It inspires me. I'm most certainly going to be trying this recipe. Just became a fan of bulgur.

April 14, 2008
 

KT

About the debate--photo or no photo. I copy your recipe and photo to Microsoft Word and then add it to my recipe file on my computer. If I want it printed I can either print from my computer file (with photo) or print from your website (without photo). A simple solution and you don't need to change what you are doing, Heidi.

April 14, 2008
 

Dvorah

What can I substitute for asparagus?

April 14, 2008
 

This looks delicious! I never would have thought of adding the egg.

My mom makes a bulgur salad that she learned from our Armenian friends, it has tons of fresh mint and onion and chicken broth - very simple but oh so delicious.

I bought some wheat berries this weekend ... do you have any ideas for how to use them? I think they might be yummy in this type of tabbouleh.

Your blog is delightful and always inspiring. Please keep doing what you do. :)

April 14, 2008
 

colleen

Do you think that this recipe would hold up well if i substituted the bulgur with quinoa?

April 14, 2008
 

allison

I *love* this site and adore all of Heidi's recipes, including this one. But I've got to agree with my husband's comment when he saw the recipe title calling this a spring tabbouleh.... 'don't be ridiculous!' I guess the 'tabbouleh' label seems way too far off for us. We'll be calling this one a spring bulgur salad instead!

April 14, 2008
 

Irma

Hi Heidi
I am a fan of your recipes but its the first time I post a comment. The reason of my enthousiasm : Tabbouleh. I am lebanese and this is where Tabbouleh comes from. And I would love to share with you the original recipe which is with parsley ;), beautiful green with an exquisite smell. The parsley we have here is what is called in french "persil plat" or flat leafed maybe it is different than yours!! You chop very finely 3 bunches of parsley with half a bunch of mint, 4 tomatoes (you try to balance green with red), 1 or 2 chives (to taste). You add a really small handful (you hardly can see it in the salad) of very fine bulgur that you only wash (you dont cook it down here, so it absorbs all the flavors). For the seasoning, its lemon juice, olive oil, pomegranata juice, salt and pepper. And whats lovely in this salad is the freedom to take the taste wherever you like, more lemon, more oil.. You decide.. Here it is for our national lebanese salad, original tabbouleh.

April 15, 2008
 

Arati

Hi, Can anyone tell me what exactly "chives" are ? I live in India and have no clue at all what it is and neither have I seen anything like it anywhere in the market !

April 15, 2008
 

Elizabeth H

My asparagus is just starting to come up! I can hardly wait to try this one.
On the photo printing . I would like an option to print the photo along with the recipe or not. Sometimes I print the recipe, then go back and print the picture to put with it. In my case it is also a matter of using the color ink. If I really want the picture, I will print it. But do not always because of the expense.
The photos are ALWAYS beautiful, but I don't want to print every one of them.

April 15, 2008
 

Christi

Ohhhhhhhhhh, tabbouleh has been a favorite of mine ever since I tasted it when I was pregnant with my oldest son, who's now 18! This looks absolutely wonderful and since today is my day off, I'm headed for the Farmer's Market to find my ingredients so I have a bunch of this to take to work with me for the rest of the week! Thanks for another wonderful recipe, Heidi!

April 15, 2008
 

I think the my favorite thing about your website, Heidi, is that you inspire me to put together ingredients I wouldn't have combined on my own. I didn't have any bulgur but I did have cous cous, and I put this spring salad together last night - delicious! I can't wait to have some for lunch today :)

April 15, 2008
 

Tom - Ponderosa Design

Alright... so I MADE it!

The wife doesn't like peas so much, so we subbed kale... and it was still incredible.

Finally, THANK YOU for the hard boiled egg directions... I never knew about the grey yolks, and never knew eggs could be so amazing.

Appreciate the great recipe. Just what we needed to get on our feet.

Peace.

April 15, 2008
 

Just wanted to let you know that your post is featured on BlogHer today! ~ AK

April 15, 2008
 

Rita

I was having my father-in-law for dinner and this was just perfect!
I´m going to try a quinoa recipe I read one of this days, sounds just as delicious, and I´ll let you know afterwards.

April 15, 2008
 

I love this version of taboulleh and thank you for encouraging folks to experiment with the ingredients to come up with their own versions of the traditional (and delicious) dish. I like to use barley, bulgar or quinoa for different grain variations too. I have a quick and easy barley taboulleh at www.lifechef.blogspot.com.

April 15, 2008
 

Helen

We are a couple of months away from asparagus 'over the water' here in the UK just now, but I love your simple and colourful recipes. I am so glad I found your site. It is great for that little bit of inspiration you need when you have been working all day and don't feel like thinking too hard! Thanks.

April 15, 2008
 

MarkhamDee

Heidi: I remember my mother trying to make and feed me tabbouleh and finding the overpowering raw garlic she used completely off-putting. The mildness of the chives and freshness of the vegetables sounds much more appealing to me in this version; I am going shopping tonight to see if I can find some local asparagus.

Arati: Chives are a perennial herb mostly made up of long, thin, and tender stalks/leaves. They are related to onions but taste much milder, and they grow in clumps so there is no root/bulb to be eaten. Heidi may suggest something else, but if I couldn't find them, I'd consider scallions or green onions as a substitute; shallots could also do in a pinch, but wouldn't have the same green "Hooray it's springtime!" look.

April 15, 2008
 

anon

Sounds like a great recipe. I have been looking for bulgar and am having trouble finding it in grocery stores. Any suggestions?

April 15, 2008
 

Zoey

Sandy McClure, just copy and paste the actual website page into a word doc or something. Then you'll have the picture as well.

April 15, 2008
 

kelly

does anyone have a suggestion for substitutions? i have someone in the family with a wheat sensitivity. i've never cooked with bulgar before - does anyone know if it will cause the same reaction as, say, whole wheat bread (which he can't eat)? thanks!

April 15, 2008
 

Sara

This looks delicious but I don't understand how it's still tabbouleh? Don't all the changes make it a different salad altogether?

April 15, 2008
 

Thanks for all the comments, feedback, and insights. Also, thanks to all of you who jump in to answer questions when you know the answer. It's very helpful to me. Often times I'm running around or traveling and by the time I get to answering your question, you've already likely forgotten that you had a question in the first place.

- Substitutions: Feel free to experiment using various cooked grains. If you or a family member has wheat allergies give quinoa a shot instead (you will need to boil it)....Feel free to leave out asparagus if you don't fancy it (or if it isn't quite available at your local markets quite yet) - or try a spring vegetable you like more in its place.

- Calling it tabbouleh: This is one of those cases where I used the name tabbouleh to help people understand the realm of salad we are talking about (when the title pops up in your email for example)....I suspect many people know they like tabbouleh, but might have no idea what bulgur is - I wouldn't want them to miss out. When I name something in this manner I try to make sure it is clear that this is my "twist" on a tabbouleh-type dish, and I try to do that right up front. Hope this lends some insight. -h

April 15, 2008
 

I adore bulgar wheat, thanks for a remake of this dish. Your's looks refreshing and vibrant. As always your photography is just splendid.

April 15, 2008
 

Sara

Heidi,
That's a good explanation of your use of the word tabbouleh. I wasn't intending any criticism, I was just curious as to how you are linking it.
Either way, all your food looks amazing and I am going to try one of your soba noodle recipes this week.

April 15, 2008
 

Lisa

I saw this at work today and thought, "Oh! I have all those ingredients at home!" Needless to say, it made a *fabulous* dinner. Thanks for the recipe, Heidi!

April 15, 2008
 

thanks for another great recipe, heidi! i made your cumin spiked tofu recipe last week which was a hit! and tonight i riffed on this, adding steamed carrot pieces sliced on the bias and sauteed leeks. yum yum. oh and i crumbled feta on top instead of egg. buglur is so versatile! a highly underrated grain, i feel.

April 15, 2008
 

Hi thanks for the interesting recipe. I love parsley and make the traditional tabbouleh but wanted to add one can just buy sm grain bulghar and put in a bowl w boiling water and lemon juice cover while you chop the rest no cooking needed, add more liquid as needed to make it soft.

April 15, 2008
 

Arati

Thanks a ton, MarkhamDee, for the explanation. :-) From what you have described, I'm very sure that chives are not available here in India - I have even checked the market where non-Indians go for fruits and vegetables to their taste. Green onions it is for me ! :-)

April 15, 2008
 

I liked the dish ...but a confession that i would also like to make ia ia dint know what bulgur means ...i checked on the web site got the meaning....will try the dish if i get the ingredients here..

April 15, 2008
 

Tisiphone

Love the sound of this recipe...

I HATE parsley. More than anything!

April 16, 2008
 

i absolutely adore middle eastern food. this looks so healthy and delicious!

April 16, 2008
 

Yummy... gotta try it out!

April 16, 2008
 

Tabbouleh is a realm I have never ventured into. I have no doubt I would screw up the levels of seasoning on first attempt, but the end product looks and sounds really good, so I might just have to be brave and forge ahead.

CW Guy
Wine Reviews

April 16, 2008
 

beth

Totally unrelated to asparagus...
I was just eating a regular ole yogurt, mandarin flavor, and I really feel that it could, in fact should, be used in some kind of yummy recipe. I was just wondering if you could put your foodie thinking cap on and come up with something. I couldn't!
:)

April 16, 2008
 

Amanda

Hi Heidi,
I just adore your site and have never had the opportunity to comment until now. I made this tabbouleh salad tonight, and it was wonderfu. The only thing I didn't add was peas, and I topped mine off with some sauteed tofu and a little dukkah as well. Superb.

Last night I did your caramelized tofu and brussels sprouts and probably could have eaten it all at once (thankfully, I resisted, saving the leftovers for lunch). Everything I've tried from your site, from the otsu to the dukkah to the quinoa chickpea bowl, has been amazing. I feel so proud of myself for taking the time to cook thoughtful, healthy dishes and I have you to thank!

I've trying to get your book from the library for weeks now (apparently i'm not the only one interested!) but I think it's just time to put in my amazon order. Thank you for all the wonderful recipes! I look forward to trying out many more.

best,
amanda

April 16, 2008
 

i've said it before but i'll say it again: why don't i live in california? your farmer's markets are nothing like my farmer's markets.

this is spring in a bowl. thanks for giving me permission to omit the parsley in tabbouleh. i've never gotten behind parsley.

April 16, 2008
 

I understand your need to name dishes in a way that will help people to understand what they are, but I think you also need to be sensitive to the sensibilities of the rightful "owners" of a dish name. This is the internet, afterall, and your readers are from all over.

I agree with earlier posters that this is not tabbouli, just as the ANZAC biscuits are not cookies (g). As always, this "spring bulghur salad" does look fabulous, though (g).

April 16, 2008
 

roopa shree

i loved your blog, it inspired me, really it is too good.

April 17, 2008
 

Hari

I'm not a fan of parsely too. This seems to be a great recipe to try.

April 17, 2008
 

I love bulgur wheat (it's so easy to make) and that salad would be so great with a fillet of grilled snapper :)

April 17, 2008