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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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. :)

Rachel V

What can I substitute for asparagus?


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.


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

Kelley Smith

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!

mz priss from austin

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!


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!

Erin in AK

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!


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


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.


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


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!


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.


what a wonderful recipe.. I love Tabbouleh and bulgur.. Thank you !!


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.


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!


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


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


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

Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

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...


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