When I decided that a tabouli recipe was next on my list for development, I knew my tabouli salad wasn’t going to be traditional. In my mind, traditional tabouli is made from bulgar wheat, fresh parsley and mint, olive oil, lime juice, chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper. The herbs are strictly chopped. There’s no cucumber allowed. While I can somewhat appreciate a purest’s point of view, rules are meant for breaking and I just can’t resist the urge to put a twist on classic dishes and traditional recipes. Food and cooking is meant to be fun, and to me, that means being creative, inventive and catering to my own tastes.
I’ve eaten many versions of tabouli in my life. There are some I love and some I don’t. The ones I don’t are usually due to the raw parsley. There’s something about totally raw parsley that just doesn’t taste right to me. I’ve realized that I enjoy uncooked parsley as long as the strong flavor has been cut with acid and salt. So a tabouli salad where the parsley hasn’t been sufficiently broken down by lemon juice and salt, tastes both incomplete and overpowering to me.
But I’m a problem solver, so I came up with the perfect way to ensure my tabouli tastes balanced and bright….make a vinaigrette-pesto-sauce-thing out of the traditional tabouli mixings. Parsley, mint, lemon, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper come together effortlessly in a food processor and the resulting vinaigrette is easily tossed with grains and vegetables to create an absolutely delicious and healthy salad. It makes it a breeze to turn any grain or vegetable combo into a tabouli salad. Bulgar, brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, riced cauliflower or cooked pasta can all be easily transformed into a tasty tabouli-style salad by simply tossing with this dressing. Plus, it can be made days in advance which makes it great for make ahead meals and entertaining.
This Tabouli Vinaigrette is vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo approved. And in addition to being diet-restriction-friendly, the fresh herbs make it health-supportive and nourishing.
Parsley contains over 200% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin-k and over 20% of recommended vitamin-c intake. Vitamin-k is known for its role in bone strength and healthy blood clotting, and vitamin-c is necessary for the production of a superhero hormone called serotonin, which is needed for healthy immune, nervous and digestive systems. Parsley also contains a flavonoid called myricetin. Flavonoids are phytonutrients (aka compounds found in plants) that act as powerful antioxidants. The flavonoid myricetin has been linked to improving brain and heart health, bone strength and bad cholesterol.
Fresh Mint Leaves are packed with antioxidants, including one called rosmarinic acid, which has been shown to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. Mint is also a tried-and-true remedy for occasional indigestion, gas and upset stomach.
5-Minute Tabouli Vinaigrette
Yield: 1.5-2 cups Servings: 8-12
40-50 stems Italian parsley, ends trimmed (1 bunch or 2 heaping cups packed)*
100 large mint leaves (1 bunch or 1 cup packed)
3 cloves garlic (1 teaspoon grated)
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1.5-2 teaspoons sea salt, fine grain
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup + extra virgin olive oil
Combine trimmed parsley, mint leaves, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until herbs are roughly chopped. Drizzle in olive oil while processor is running, until herbs are finely chopped and dressing is well combined. The amount of olive oil depends on the desired consistency.
You can also make this by hand. Just chop the herbs super finely and grate/paste the garlic. Whisk all ingredients together except oil. Drizzle oil in slowly while whisking.
Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Use as a dressing or sauce.
*To trim parsley, cut the leaf-less, woody portion of the stems and discard. Use only the leaves and the tender upper portion of the stems for this recipe.