Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad made with bulgur wheat, some chopped vegetables and lots of herbs like parsley, cilantro or mint. Liberal amounts of olive oil and lemon juice are stirred into the mix for a salad that’s incredibly fresh tasting. I came across this recipe for Southwestern Tabbouleh in Cooking Light magazine a few years back and it’s been a potluck favorite. Nutty, chewy bulgur, crunchy bell peppers, creamy avocados and a spicy kick: Southwestern Tabbouleh has it all!
The nice thing about this salad is its versatility. You’re not limited to using peppers, onions and cucumbers if you don’t have them (or don’t like them). Try adding black beans or roasted corn…or perhaps some diced mango. If you don’t care for cilantro, substitute parsley. If you don’t have queso fresco, substitute feta or pepper jack cheese. For the vinaigrette use all lime juice, all lemon or a combination. You get the idea.
We used bulgur last week to make a delicious breakfast porridge. As mentioned in that post, bulgur is easy to prepare in bulk and keeps for a week in the fridge. Make sure to check the directions on the package as a guideline for preparation. I like to cover mine with boiling water and let it set (like couscous) but bulgur can also be cooked on the stove like rice until softened. It depends on your preference and how coarsely the bulgur has been ground. I used bulgur that had been prepared earlier in the week to make my Southwestern Tabbouleh.
- 1½ cups prepared bulgur
- 1 bunch cilantro, large stems removed and chopped
- ½ medium red onion, diced or cut into petals
- ¾ cup diced seeded tomato (I used grape tomatoes because they were the only ones worth buying this week)
- ½ cup diced bell peppers (I used assorted colors because I had them on hand)
- ½ avocado, diced (use the whole thing if you prefer)
- ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- ¼ cup diced seeded peeled cucumber (I used half a 6" cuke)
- 1 ounce or more queso fresco, crumbled
- ¼ cup olive oil (any light tasting salad oil will work)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin, more or less
- ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper, more or less
- ¼ teaspoon paprika, more or less
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder, more or less
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl mix the bulgur with the cilantro, vegetables and cheese.
- Mix the vinaigrette and pour over the tabbouleh. Gently mix together. Add more olive oil or lemon/lime juice if it seems dry.
- Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more.
- Before serving, taste and adjust the seasonings. I sometimes add even more lime juice.
- Consume leftovers within a day as the cheese and avocado will lose their appeal. Alternately, you could wait to add them before serving.