Chopped fresh vegetable tabbouleh is a delicious make-ahead salad with layers of healthful Mediterranean ingredients.
You could call this vibrant vegetable tabbouleh salad a healthy version of the seven-layer salad, the classic Southern picnic dish.
Only instead of bacon, hard-boiled eggs and ranch dressing, this fast vegetarian recipe features ingredients straight out of the Mediterranean pantry.
Tabbouleh (also spelled tabouli or tabouleh) is a classic Middle Eastern salad of bulgur and finely chopped tomatoes and parsley, which is typically heavy on the greens and lighter on the grain.
Here all the ingredients are layered into a bowl and topped with a tangy tahini dressing.
This make-ahead salad is ready to go when you are, and it’s a great choice for meal planning or packing for lunch.
I probably don’t need to add that vegetable tabbouleh is a perfect summer dish, for potlucks or just as a fuss-free meal.
Bulgur wheat recipes
I often include bulgur in healthy, easy-to-make recipes.
It’s a form of whole grain, cracked wheat that’s quick cooking, with a nutty taste and texture.
Bulgur makes a nice base for this make-ahead salad, ably standing up to the juicy vegetables and dressing.
Main ingredients in vegetable tabbouleh:
Bulgur wheat — Choose medium-fine bulgur rather than fine-textured for this recipe. It cooks quickly, yet retains a pleasing bite.
Cucumber — Persian cucumbers are best in this salad because they have tender skin and few seeds. English (or hothouse) cucumbers are good too.
Tomato — Get nice ripe tomatoes. The smallish Campari tomatoes are reliably juicy and sweet when summer-ripe tomatoes aren’t available.
Green onions/scallions — Trim off the hairy root ends and about an inch of the green tops. You want both the white and green parts in the salad for color and flavor.
Fresh herbs — You can use one herb or a combination of cilantro, mint and parsley. Flat leaf Italian parsley is my fave (rather than curly) — it has so much flavor and the leaves are beautifully green. Remove tough stems from all the herbs and roughly chop the leaves.
I made a tangy spiced dressing for this vegetable tabbouleh, but you can try other ones, too.
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon white wine or rice vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, smashed and finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Maras pepper or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 - 3 tablespoons cold water
- 3/4 cup medium bulgur
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes (about 1 pound)
- 2 cups chopped English or Persian cucumbers (14 ounces)
- 2 - 3 cups baby arugula, spinach or torn Romaine lettuce leaves
- 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
- 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
- 4 green onions with 3 inches of green tops attached, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup each fresh cilantro, parsley and mint leaves
- Make the dressing: Put the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and salt in a small mixing bowl or workbowl of a mini food processor. Let sit for 10 minutes to dissolve the salt and mellow the garlic. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk or process until blended and smooth (add more water as needed to reach the a thick, pourable consistency). Taste and season with more salt if needed.
- Fill a saucepan of water to a boil with salt to taste. Add the bulgur and cook 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain, transfer to a shallow bowl or spread on a baking sheet to cool completely.
- To make the salad, layer the ingredients into your bowl or container: Start with about 1/2 cup of the tomatoes, followed by the same amount of bulgur, cucumber and chickpeas. Sprinkle with the cheese, some of the green onions and herbs. Repeat until you've used everything. Pour the dressing over the top.
This vegetable tabbouleh salad looks beautiful served in a glass bowl (such as a trifle bowl), but you can use one large mixing bowl or a large covered glass storage container (this round Pyrex with glass lid is my current favorite).
Or make individual servings by layering the ingredients into small covered jars or meal-planning containers.Vegetable tabbouleh salad is best enjoyed within 3-4 days.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340 Total Fat: 22g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 13g Cholesterol: 33mg Sodium: 667mg Carbohydrates: 27g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 8g Sugar: 7g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 14g