This cauliflower tabbouleh salad recipe is a great take on traditional tabbouleh, which is made with bulgur wheat. This version is loaded with fresh veggies and is super easy to make.
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What is cauliflower tabbouleh?
Tabbouleh is a traditional Middle Eastern salad made from bulghur wheat, cucumber, herbs, tomatoes, and onions. It's prepared throughout the Levant.
Cauliflower tabbouleh is a modern interpretation of the traditional dish that replaces bulghur wheat with cauliflower. The result is a light and fresh salad. It's similar to other regional dishes, such as tomato and cucumber salad, which is also prepared with fresh herbs, lemon, and olive oil.
Why this recipe works
- Cauliflower's texture and neutral flavor make it a good substitute for bulghur wheat, and it's a good option for people who adhere to grain- or gluten-free diets.
- This cauliflower tabbouleh recipe keeps like a champ. It works well for picnics, potlucks, and your weekly meal prep without wilting like a lettuce salad.
- It's easy to make. There's a little chopping, stirring, and that's about it.
Good cauliflower tabbouleh largely depends on the quality and freshness of your ingredients. Ripe tomatoes, vibrant fresh herbs, and a deliciously green, grassy extra virgin olive oil can make the difference between a lackluster result and a truly spectacular version.
- Raw cauliflower is the foundation of this version of tabbouleh. You can use the florets as well as the stems, which minimizes food waste. You'll need about half of a head of cauliflower.
- Cucumbers lend a clean, fresh note to cauliflower tabbouleh. English cucumbers work well, but small Persian cucumbers are a good choice, too.
- Tomatoes give the tabbouleh an acidic, umami edge. Meaty tomatoes, such as plum tomatoes, work the best, but you can also use heirloom varietals or even cherry tomatoes in a pinch.
- Herbs include fresh parsley and fresh mint, which give the salad a beautiful verdant color and a vibrant, fresh flavor. Both curly and flat-leaf parsley work in this recipe.
- Garlic and onions bring a snappy bite to the tabbouleh that's essential for good balance and flavor. I prefer green onions, but finely chopped red onion is a nice substitute, too.
- Fresh lemon juice brings acidity to the tabbouleh. While fresh Meyer lemons are my favorite, you can also use preserved lemon, too, as it adds a pleasant complexity to the tabbouleh.
- Extra virgin olive oil brings the whole recipe together, and you'll use a lot of it. So the quality and flavor matter.
- Optional Add-ins can include Kalamata olives, feta cheese, or bell peppers.
Where to find real extra virgin olive oil.
Graza offers single-origin, hand-harvested olive oil from Spain that's perfect for this recipe. They offer buttery, lightly flavored olive oil for sautéing and a more robust green oil for drizzling as a finishing oil.
How to Make Cauliflower Tabbouleh
Making this cauliflower tabbouleh recipe is fairly simple. As long as you can peel and chop fresh veggies, you can pull this recipe off. The prep work takes a little bit of time, but it's worth it.
- Gather you're equipment. You'll need a food processor, sharp knife, vegetable peeler, cutting board, and a few mixing bowls.
- Prep the cauliflower by pulsing it in the food processor until it's chopped to the consistency of grains of rice.
- Prep your vegetables. Peel and seed the cucumber, and then chop it finely. Seed the tomato, and then chop it finely so it's the same consistency as the cucumber. Slice the green onion thinly on the diagonal.
- Mince the herbs. You're looking for fine, uniform consistency.
- Toss it all together in a mixing bowl until uniformly combined, and then dress with olive oil and lemon juice, adjusting seasoning with salt as it suits you.
- Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes which allows the flavors to meld together.
Cauliflower tabbouleh is easy to make. For that reason, it's a good recipe for beginners or for home cooks who may not have a lot of experience in the kitchen. While it's an easy recipe, there are a few tips you'll want to keep in mind.
- If you don't have a food processor, you can also grate the cauliflower using a box grater.
- If you're using small Persian cucumbers, you may not need to peel or seed them as you would with English cucumbers.
- Seeding the tomatoes may feel like just one extra step, but it prevents cauliflower tabbouleh from becoming too watery as it sits.
- Uniform consistency matters. This means no big hunks of cauliflower and that all your cucumbers and tomatoes are diced to the same size.
- It's better the next day, after the salt, olive oil, and lemon juice have time to penetrate the vegetables.
How should I serve it?
You can serve cauliflower tabbouleh just like any fresh vegetable salad. It keeps well, so it's a good candidate for summer barbecues, picnics, and potlucks.
I love to partner it with sprouted hummus, salty olives, and crumbled feta cheese. It's also excellent when you serve it with grilled meats such as lamb or chicken, as well as falafel and pita bread.
Variations + Substitutions
- Romanesco is a good substitute for cauliflower and makes a nice variation of this tabbouleh recipe.
- Salty, briny feta cheese and olives are nice additions to cauliflower tabbouleh, although they're absent from the traditional version.
- For a more pungent onion flavor, skip the green onions and use finely chopped red onion instead.
- Diced red pepper is a nice addition, bringing an element of crunch. Sweet bell peppers are delicious, but I'll occasionally add thinly sliced Fresno peppers, too. They have a medium heat level which works well with the mellow flavor of cauliflower.
You can use a box grater to process the cauliflower if you don't have a food processor. You can also save yourself a step buy riced cauliflower in the produce section of most supermarkets.
Cauliflower tabbouleh will keep for about 3 days in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.
Store cauliflower tabbouleh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
No. Cauliflower is served raw in this salad.