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


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


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

roopa shree

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).


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.

michelle @ TNS

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


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! :)


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

CW Guy

Yummy... gotta try it out!


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


Love the sound of this recipe... I HATE parsley. More than anything!


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..


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 ! :-)


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.

nancy hart

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.


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!


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.


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


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


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


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!


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


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


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.


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.


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.

Life Chef

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