It’s big batch tabbouleh day! If you’re unfamiliar, tabbouleh is a fresh and filling middle eastern salad, and it’s a must have in your next batch cooking meal plan. Read on for a cute story about my firstborn and all you need to know about making your own tabbouleh…
When we were still a family of three, I remember sitting down to mediocre Greek takeout one night. I dished up then two-year-old Evan a little bit of tabbouleh, the easy/only star of the meal, with LOADS of lemon juice and parsley. He wasn’t the biggest or most adventurous eater at that point, so when he devoured it by the spoonful and signaled for more, Steve and I half giggled, half gazed in amazement (basically the theme of all toddler eating, right?).
With Zahav on my cookbook shelf, I quickly realized that I can make my Middle Eastern favorites pretty easily at home, exactly to my liking, saving the hassle and expense of unpredictable takeout. So many of my favorites, like this big batch tabbouleh salad, are naturally vegan and fit easily into our plant-based diet. The tabbouleh is fresh and filling all year, but the recipe requires just thirty minutes in the kitchen for at least two dinners’ worth of a hearty main dish salad, making it an absolute essential for the upcoming warm weather.
The Origins of Tabbouleh
In the Zahav cookbook, Chef Solomonov confirms my suspicions: it’s not incorrect to call tabbouleh middle eastern (as opposed to attributing it to a specific country), because it’s long been part of various countries’ traditional cuisine. He, of course, refers to the Israeli version, but the dish can originally be traced to the mountains of Lebanon and Syria.
Depending on the region, tabbouleh could feature different local herbs (often, but not always, parsley), different varieties of bulgur, a range of seasonal produce, and a fluctuating ratio of bulgur to herbs.
Being one of my favorite go-to sites for whole food, delicious, familiar recipes, it’s no surprise I discovered Kate’s tabbouleh before I even remembered I own Zahav. Her version features loads of parsley plus some mint, tomato AND cucumber (the latter not being common in every preparation), and a lemon and garlic vinaigrette that’s not shy on olive oil. It was a great starting point for a batch cooking tabbouleh salad that I could easily incorporate into weekly meal planning.
Main Dish Tabbouleh
Although tabbouleh recipes vary, they do have one thing in common: they’re not typically the main event of the meal. You’ll usually see the dish as part of a big appetizer spread or assortment of side dishes. Flashback to when dining inside a restaurant was still the norm, and this was a key part of the dining experience for any middle eastern restaurant: wanting to order everything on the menu, and often following through with it!
That’s not the experience I’m trying to create here, though. I’m now operating in a world where dinnertime includes two wild little children, two insane or lethargic pugs, and enough noise that thinking through and executing more than just a carb, a veggie, and a protein is out of the question.
Big batch tabbouleh salad will cover all your nutrition (and taste!) bases, especially if you include the chickpeas, which I forgot to do when photographing the dish. You get a grain base from lots of fluffy, no cook bulgur (you just soak it). Protein comes from the bulgur and chickpeas. The veggies and herbs are rich in filling fiber, antioxidants, and so many other benefits. And you get just enough fat in the olive oil. I found that tons of oil in the dressing wasn’t necessary, to cover the salad or for flavor, so you can fill up on all the good parts of the salad instead of a heavy vinaigrette (aka you can eat more).
Serve it up with some store bought hummus and pita bread, maybe some fruit, pickled onions if you have some lying around your fridge, and you’ve got yourself a totally complete meal for not one but TWO nights this week. And maybe even some lunches to boot!
More Great Grain Salads!
Got a pantry full of dried grains to use? Try these other NCK recipes, all of which are vegan!
- Olive tabbouleh
- Summer quinoa tabbouleh with creamy herb vinaigrette
- Southwest quinoa salad and lime vinaigrette
A batch cooking version of naturally vegan tabbouleh salad is bursting with freshness from tomatoes, parsley, and lemon, with enough (no cook!) bulgur wheat to make it a hearty main course, especially for warmer weather.
1 1/2 C dry bulgur wheat
1/2 C lemon juice (about 6 smaller lemons)
1/3 C olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 small to medium English cucumbers
6 roma tomatoes
2 bunches scallions (around 14 individual scallions)
2 bunches curly parsley
Kosher or sea salt
3 C cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (optional, not pictured in photos)
- Place dry bulgur in a large mixing bowl (resealable will double as a storage container later) and mix with 1 1/2 cups boiling water. Cover with lid or foil, and let rest about 25 minutes while you prep remaining ingredients.
- Whisk or shake lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt to make the dressing. Set aside.
- Prep the veggies: Halve cucumbers lengthwise and scrape out seeds with a spoon, then chop. Cut stem end off roma tomatoes, stand on the flat side, and quarter lengthwise. Remove seeds and white membranes with your hands or a knife, then chop. Thinly slice the scallions (I include a little of the darker green parts, plus the white and light green).
- Prep the parsley: Remove thick stems and wash (a salad spinner works great!). Finely chop by hand, or pulse in batches (as much as will fit) in a food processor in about 30 short bursts.
- Once water is fully absorbed into the bulgur, fluff with a fork and gently mix with half the dressing. Add prepared veggies, the parsley, and the chickpeas if using, plus remaining dressing, and stir to combine.Taste and season with salt as desired.
Recipe adapted from Cookie and Kate’s “best tabbouleh recipe”.
Keeps well in the fridge–best consumed by day six! Parsley is a really sturdy herb, and using English cucumbers and roma tomatoes as prescribed, with the seeds removed, works great for a make ahead tabbouleh without excess water.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Salad
Keywords: grains, salad, middle eastern, vegan, batch cooking
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