A couple of weekends ago we had some friends over for lunch. We live on the top floor of a 100-year old building and during the summer it is hot. Turning on the oven is not an option when we are entertaining, so we tend to serve things that can be prepared in advance. In fact, I am developing quite a repertoire of recipes that can be prepared in advance and served cold or room temperature. This farmers market tabbouleh is being added to that ever-growing list. I was inspired by something I’d seen in the Morito cookbook, an assortment of tabbouleh that adapt to the seasons.


This is one of the few times you could find me at the farmers market actually being inspired (spontaneously!) by the season. I usually have a plan— lists, even! But there I was like a genuine Alice Waters-zombie creating this dish in my mind’s eye. Throwing vegetables in my bag like a real farm-to-table free spirit who woke up like this. You should do the same, because with this sort of recipe not much could go wrong. I used a bunch of early summer vegetables (asparagus, fava beans, sugar snap peas) and piles of fresh dill and parsley. You can use any vegetables you like, and I mean that. I normally hate when recipes tell me that I can do whatever I like (but I want you to tell me what I like) but in this case it is true. Cook each vegetable in a way that leaves it with some crunch. For instance, I very briefly blanched the favas and the peas the day before and kept them in the fridge overnight (I’d do the same with all peas/beans). I charred the asparagus in a cast iron skillet (I would probably char peppers and zucchini too). Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and you are good to do. I prepared all of the vegetables the night before and kept them in the refrigerator so they were ready to go for lunch.

We served this with some marinated mozzarella and tomatoes and an eggplant puree. It was the perfect summer lunch.

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Early Summer Tabbouleh (inspired by Morito)

  • 1 cup of uncooked bulgur
  • 1 garlic clove
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • vegetables of your choice, I used: asparagus, fava beans, sugar snap peas, and scallions (see photo above for the amount of each) cooked, if needed, and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • a large bunch parsley, chopped
  • a large bunch dill, chopped
  • a small bunch of mint, chopped

Prepare the bulgur: This usually involves pouring boiling water over the grain and letting it sit until the mixture is absorbed. Then, run a fork through the bulgur to fluff it, like you would couscous. (I use this bulgur from Bob’s Red Mill and you pour 1 cup of boiling water over the 1 cup of bulgur.)

Make the dressing: Put the garlic, cinnamon, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small jar and shake to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

In a large bowl, combine the bulgur, vegetables, and chopped herbs and toss to combine them. Pour 3/4 of the prepared dressing over the salad, toss again, and taste for seasoning. You may need to add more dressing or salt. Serve at room temperature, or chilled. Serves 4-6.

25 comments to “Tabbouleh”

  1. IS this still a comedy blog? We are due for some of your creative reflections of funny things which is why you have such a loyal following.
    Comedy PLEASE!!!!

  2. lol sfb. thanks.

  3. These photos make my heart sing.

  4. sfb, I totally LOL’d right here:

    “Throwing vegetables in my bag like a real farm-to-table free spirit who just woke up like this.”

  5. Those fava beans! They look like pillowy mouth goodness.

  6. Alice Waters-zombie ftw! this looks amazing.

  7. That looks so good and reminds me of holidays in France…

  8. Alice-Waters-Zombie. I love it. And this dish looks delicious. D

  9. Are you too a member of the most exclusive club I know: People-Who-Could-Afford-Air-Conditioning-But-Hate-It-And-Sweat-And-Complain-All-Summer-Without-It?!! I keep a list of my fellow crazies to help me thru the bad moments when it feels like my boiling brains might start bubbling out of my ears.

  10. Great summer fare, all of it. Yum.

  11. Yum! Happy Nesting.

  12. Gorgeous photos for your funny story. Next thing you’ll be participating in a community garden or getting a weekly bag from a CSA. : )

  13. This is such a neat version of tabbouleh!! Awesome recipe!

  14. Max Grant says:

    July 20th, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Holy yum!

  15. Mairsydoats says:

    July 21st, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    “…who just woke up like this.” Yes, LOL, indeed.

    I can wrap my head around this if I call it a bulgur salad in my head, but not if I call it tabbouleh. Sorries, but neither dill, nor peas, nor asparagus belong in tabbouleh, even if they’re perfectly at home in a bulgur salad. Happy eating, no matter what you call it.

  16. Hi Mairsydoats! I hear you, but this kind of culinary rigidity is surely not productive. Everything is always evolving, including language. Rules have no place in the kitchen! Vive la revolution! ; )

  17. Adding cinnamon is key – and not just anybody knows that. Otherwise, you got crazy with this tabbouleh! I’ll bring it to Beirut and see how it flies…

  18. Oh, and you flat-out ignore that amazing dish with the tomatoes (and labneh?) NEXT to the tabbouleh… seems like a bad tease. ;)

  19. Dearest Rima- There is a link to the mozzarella and tomato salad. Stop skimming!

  20. This is a gorgeous summer dish. I will be adding this to my “do not want to go in the kitchen in this heat” dishes. Thank you!

  21. I love this, and I agree that Tabbouleh is one of the most versatile and easily adaptable dishes that you can make. I tend to use quinoa in mine (instead of bulgar or couscous) as I prefer the taste and it’s gluten free (I’m not gluten free, but try to limit it where I can). Right now I’m using fresh cherry tomatoes, radishes, baby turnips, lots of basil, even some shredded kohlrabi. I’ve never added a pinch of cinnamon though so I’ll try that on my next batch. Thanks for the ideas!

  22. I can feel summer with this recipe. Will be trying it out soon

  23. Maria Lopez says:

    August 19th, 2014 at 1:02 am

    wow…this recipe looks easy and full of green! thank you for sharing..:)

  24. I hear you on the evolving thing and agree there should not be too much culinary rigidity, but this is not tabbouleh and never will be. It will surely taste fabulous. But what is wrong with celebrating tried and tested dishes that adhere to a somewhat narrow set of rules? The reason for a dish being called one name and consisting of a somewhat fixed set of ingredients and/or preparation methods is that it delivers a certain recognizable taste that cannot be easily replicated with other ingredients/methods.
    A good example of how a dish can be misnamed is the famous Greek salad: served almost invariably with lettuce and without the correct herbs, if herbs at all, in most restaurants, eating the real thing (horiatiki) for the first time in its unadulterated state is a true revelation.
    Sure, there always is and should be experimentation, but sticking to the tried and tested range is not rigidity, it often can deliver a wonderful experience.
    But honestly, luvvie, this is not tabbouleh. Call it tabbouleh-inspired or tabbouleh-adjacent, but do not pretend it is tabbouleh, ’cause it so is not!

  25. Aimee! WOW. Wow. You feel very strongly about this, which I guess I appreciate. But I am going to continue to call this tabbouleh, and you can call it whatever you like. At least we both love Greek salads?

What do you think?