Tabbouleh Salad (aka Tabouli) is a Lebanese side dish. It’s herby, lemony, refreshing, and good enough to eat on its own or over lettuce. Cauliflower tabbouleh salad is spin on the traditional version. I swap out the bulgur for cauliflower to sneak in more veggies!
If you’ve ever been to a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean restaurant you likely have seen Tabbouleh (also spelled Tabouli) on the menu.
Tabbouleh can be eaten alongside with hummus, salad, pita, and a bit of feta cheese. If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out!
Cauliflower Tabbouleh salad is just as easy to make and just as delicious! It replaces the bulgur with riced cauliflower for a low carb version of this classic side dish.
What’s in Traditional Tabbouleh?
Traditional Lebanese tabbouleh is pretty straight forward. It’s made with super fine bulgur (a whole grain), a LOT of chopped parsley, fresh mint, green onion, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.
The simplicity of the ingredients is what makes it so wonderful! It pairs nicely with the richness of hummus, and is a great accompaniment for any wrap or salad.
Why Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad?
For me, swapping out the bulgur for cauliflower isn’t (necessarily) about cutting carbs or making this *gluten free* (it is). I just love cooking with cauliflower (ok really any vegetable), AND by using cauliflower I can use it as an excuse to eat a LOT of this salad.
When I make cauliflower tabbouleh salad, it stops being the side dish and starts to move into center stage.
Since the meal preps I eat with this salad typically already have plenty of carbs in them (from hummus, dressing, feta, etc.), this salad is the perfect accompaniment.
This dish was inspired from Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow.
What Makes this Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad Stand Out
You’ve probably seen a recipe or two for this salad floating around online. The first time I made the salad, I was somewhat underwhelmed. Where was all the flavor? I wanted something more!
Here are a few modifications I made to the *original* that I enjoy – but as with any recipe, feel free to make it your own!
- Addition of radishes – I got this idea from Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow. The added crunch and color round this dish out even more.
- Lemon zest – A touch of lemon zest brightens this right up! No more dull tabbouleh.
- Garlic – Not all recipes for tabbouleh call for garlic. I prefer it and enjoy the added complexity it provides the dish.
- Chopped Red Onion – I started adding this straight to my tabbouleh because I was adding it on after-the-fact anyways. Just a small handful goes a long way.
*Note: If you don’t like the bitterness of red onion 1) you can leave it out, or 2) you can let the chopped onion soak in cold water for 5-10 minutes before draining it. This removes some of the bitterness.
Tips for Making the Best Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad
- Use Italian parsley and chop it as finely as possible. The more finely you chop it, the more the little leaves will be coated in the dressing. No more “dry” tabbouleh!
- Use more olive oil or lemon juice as needed. This is cooking, not baking! Add more (or less?) olive oil and lemon juice to your desired taste.
- Bake the cauliflower less than you think you’ll need to. It really should be just barely tender, not completely cooked. You will have cauliflower mashed potatoes instead (and hey, if that happens, not the end of the world!).
- When zesting your lemon, only zest the bright yellow part. Once you hit the white area of the lemon, stop! The white part of the lemon will bring unwanted bitterness to your dish.
Make Ahead and Storing
This is the perfect make-ahead dish because the flavors only improve with time. Cauliflower tabbouleh salad can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days.
If you plan on eating this more than 2-3 days out, I recommend leaving the tomatoes out so they do not get mushy. You can add them in as you eat it. This is totally personal preference.
I’ve made this both ways – tomatoes in from the start, and tomatoes out (added as I go). Both turn out great, but I’m a little picky with my tomato texture which is why I often opt for the latter.
Lastly, if you’re wondering if you can freezer this – sadly no. This is a hearty dish, but not so hearty to withstand your freezer! I don’t think you’ll have leftovers anyway 🙂
Ways to Enjoy Cauliflower Tabbouleh
- On a hummus wrap
- On top of romaine with diced chicken
- With a pita
- On the side of any simple dish!
Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad
- Food processor
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- 4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, (see notes)
- 8 radishes, thinly sliced and chopped
- 1 bunch scallions finely chopped
- 1/4 cup red onion, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 3 cups Italian (curly) parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon mint, finely chopped (optional, see notes)
- 1 English cucumber, finely chopped
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, more to taste
- Preheat your oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Prepare a large baking sheet with tin foil and non-stick spray. Wash your cauliflower and cut it into large chunks. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread the cauliflower out on the prepared pan evenly. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until barely tender (do not overcook).
- Once the cauliflower is cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for approximately 20 minutes. Place the cauliflower pieces in the food processor and pulse until it has the texture of rice. Work in batches if necessary. Do not over-process the cauliflower or it will get mushy.
- In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients and toss to coat. Cover the bowl tightly with saran wrap or transfer it to an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. Allow the salad to rest for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. The tabbouleh will last in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- If you're using Morton's Kosher salt, adjust it by about half.
- When zesting your lemon, make sure to only remove the bright yellow portion of the peel. The white part is bitter. If you don't have a zester, it's okay to leave it out. Just add a touch more lemon juice!
- Mint is left as an optional because I have a hard time finding fresh mint! Alternatively, you can use dried mint. Use about 1 teaspoon of dried mint, to taste.