Cauliflower tabbouleh is a grain free version of the classic tabbouleh salad.
Tabbouleh or Tabouli is a Middle Eastern salad, which is typically made with bulgur (cracked wheat), parsley, mint, tomato and lemon. It is typically served as part of a mezze (metzea) appetizer assortment, and it can be perfect in the summer as a side or a vegetarian main course. The parsley, mint and lemon combination make this dish refreshing and invigorating.
I always loved tabbouleh and used to enjoy it often when I used to eat grains. Since I changed my diet, I had to come up with an alternative version without the wheat bulgur. As I was experimenting with riced cauliflower, I came up with the idea to try substituting cauliflower rice for the cracked wheat!
The cauliflower is riced in the food processor using the blades attachment. I had to use the pulse button several times in short intervals in order to get a fine “grain” similar to the size of the couscous, and not a cauliflower paste.
Then I sautéd the cauliflower, for about 10 minutes, with two tablespoons of olive oil to evaporate some of its water and get cooked to yield a more tender texture similar to that of the bulgur in the original recipe.
I had to let the cauliflower couscous cools down, close to room temperature so that the parsley and mint do not wilt. Then I added the rest of the ingredients, except the tomato, and mixed to distribute. Last, I folded the diced tomatoes. At that moment, I tasted the tabbouleh, and I could clearly identify the distinct flavor of the cauliflower. I was kind of disappointed though. The result was tasty but not what I expected. Well…. I covered the bowl and let it rest in the refrigerator for about one hour to chill.
When I tasted again, I noticed that the flavors combined together and developed the characteristic taste of the tabbouleh. What a wonderful surprise for my taste buds! The taste is a bit different but it as close to the original it can get — I could barely taste the cauliflower. Actually, many of my guests, that night, did not notice the difference. They were surprised when I informed them that I used riced cauliflower instead of bulgur.
Since then, the cauliflower tabbouleh has become a staple in our summer cooking and entertaining and I have been looking forward to sharing this recipe.
- 4 cups of cauliflower couscous
- ¼ plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup parsley, minced
- ½ cup mint, minced
- 2 scallions thinly sliced or 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 lemon juiced (or more to taste)
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a large frying pan or sauté pan, heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add the cauliflower couscous and sauté for 10 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and some of its water has evaporated.
- Spread the cauliflower couscous to a rimmed cookie sheet and let cool.
- Meanwhile, chop the herbs and the vegetables.
- Transfer the cauliflower couscous to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the herbs, the scallions (or shallot) and lemon juice with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the diced tomatoes and fold gently to distribute the tomatoes evenly.
- Refrigerate for about 1 hour before serving.