Spring Tabbouleh Recipe

A springtime twist on a traditional tabbouleh recipe featuring peas, asparagus, chives and farm-fresh hard-boiled eggs.

Spring Tabbouleh

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.

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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.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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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!

The Spotted Apron

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....

Claudia (cook eat FRET)

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!

The Secret Ingredient

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


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.


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


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 :-)


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.


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 :) )

Jen (Modern Beet)

Marry me


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 :)


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


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.

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.

Tom - Ponderosa Design

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!


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."


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.


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.


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..


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.

Sandy McClure

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