If you had to pick one cuisine to eat for the rest of your life, which would it be? Tough question, I know. I would have to pick Mediterranean food. Fresh herbs, ripe produce, lemons, feta and olive oil? Yes, please. All the salads, please. Mediterranean cooking is a party with all of my favorite ingredients.
Given my predilection for Mediterranean food, I was excited to come across Maureen Abood’s new (and first!) cookbook, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms. It’s full of fresh and classic recipes from Maureen’s Lebanese-American kitchen. Think hummus, labneh, kibbeh and the more gorgeous tomato salads. It offers quite a few traditional desserts, breads, pickles and teas, too. The book wasn’t designed for vegetarians, so I only skimmed through the meaty entrée section, but that’s just me.
I love Maureen’s respect for classic Lebanese dishes and the fun little twists she incorporates in some of her recipes, which stay true to the original but make them a little more unique. Take classic tabbouleh salad, for example—she added diced avocado for some extra richness and served it in lettuce cups as an appetizer. Brilliant.
Be forewarned that this salad requires some time at the cutting board, but it’s totally worth it. You can prep both the parsley and the bulgur in advance. Bulgur is not gluten free, so if you need a gluten-free alternative, I would substitute about 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (just a little will do, as this classic tabbouleh salad features far more parsley than grains). Feel free to serve it as a salad or as a fresh appetizer in little lettuce cups.
If you, like me, are now craving more Mediterranean food, check out my crispy baked falafel, Lebanese bean salad, green goddess hummus and Greek broccoli salad. I think those would all pair well together. More Mediterranean-inspired dishes here!
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Maureen’s Avocado Tabbouleh
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Lebanese
Remarkably flavorful tabbouleh recipe with creamy diced avocado! This is a delicious spin on traditional tabbouleh, a classic Lebanese parsley salad. Feel free to soak the bulgur up to a day in advance. You can also prep your parsley in advance by rinsing it and drying it (see step 2). Recipe yields 8 small side servings or lettuce cups.
- ⅓ cup #1 fine grade bulgur (see notes for how to turn coarse bulgur into fine)
- 2 to 3 bunches curly parsley (to yield 2 cups finely chopped parsley)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced into ¼-inch wide rounds
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- 5 scallions (green onions), sliced thinly crosswise
- 4 large sprigs fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (to yield ¼ cup chopped mint)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, to taste (about 1 to 2 medium lemons, juiced)
- ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To serve as lettuce cups: 1 head butter lettuce or 2 heads Little Gem romaine, rinsed and dried
- Rinse the bulgur a couple of times in a small bowl, letting the bulgur settle for a few seconds before pouring off the water (I used a fine-mesh colander to catch the bulgur when I poured off the water). Add enough fresh water to just cover the bulgur and soak for 30 minutes, or until it is softened. Pour off and squeeze out any excess water.
- While the bulgur softens, prepare the parsley. Rinse it well, then dry it in a salad spinner and then gently squeeze it in clean kitchen towels to get rid of any remaining moisture. Or, you can wrap the damp parsley in clean kitchen towels and gently squeeze out excess water, repeating as necessary. The drier the parsley, the easier it will be to chop up and the better your tabbouleh will be.
- Pinch off the curls of parsley from their stems. Chop the curls in two or three batches with a large chef’s knife until it’s finely chopped.
- In a medium serving bowl, combine the parsley, tomato, avocado, scallions, mint and bulgur. Stir in the olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more lemon and salt if needed. Let the tabbouleh rest for about 15 minutes to give the bulgur time to soak up the flavors.
- Serve the tabbouleh as a salad immediately. Or, to serve as lettuce cups: pull the leaves from your lettuce and arrange the nicest, most cup-like leaves on a platter. Fill each cup with a big spoonful of the tabbouleh and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood, with permission.
To turn coarse bulgur into fine-grade bulgur: I pulsed the bulgur in my blender (a food processor would likely work, too) about 20 times, until the grains were reduced to about ⅓ of their original size. Alternately, you could just cook your bulgur rather than soaking it. Here’s a guide with cooking times for different grades of bulgur.
Storage suggestions: This salad is best the day it’s made, but I still enjoyed the leftovers two days later. Store in the refrigerator, covered.
▸ Nutrition Information
The Working Foodie
Mm mm – what a wonderful twist on traditional tabbouleh – I would never have thought to add avocado. I wonderful if I could sub garlic powder for minced garlic? I rarely see powdered garlic in London for some reason!
Yep, I bet so! One or two cloves should do the trick.
My Dish is Bomb
I think I would pick Thai food if I could only pick one cuisine for the rest of my life. But Mediterranean food would be a close second. I can definitely see myself making a big bowl of this and having it for lunch throughout the week.
Oh man, now I’m craving Thai food. :)
Emily @ Layers of Happiness
I’m obsessed with tabbouleh, but avocados totally take this to the next level! Loving the creaminess it ads the an already amazing dish!
Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth
Thanks for introducing Maureen’s book — will definitely check it out! I love the addition of avocado to the tabbouleh. And love the Cookie pic!
My situ’s recipe for tabbouleh is somewhat different in the spices used in this recipe, and over the years I’ve experimented with little tweeks to suit my tastes.
No garlic in my version, just salt,pepper & allspice. If you’d like a little heat try some cayenne pepper..lots of parsley,scallions and tomatoes make up the ingredients with fresh lemons and olive oil to top it off. Bulgar wheat or quinoa make up the remaining bits of this staple in my home…
Looking forward to trying out Maureen’s version.
Thanks, John! I’ve heard that Ottolenghi adds allspice to his tabbouleh. Sounds like a great addition to me.
Lane | Modern Granola
I’ve been craving Tabbouleh so hard lately! I love tabbouleh because you don’t have to cook anything, it’s so refreshing, and there are herbs for days. It’s the perfect summer dish! Yours looks amazing.
Yep, it’s just the ticket on hot days! Thanks, Lane!
Mmmmm, tabbouleh! Looks amazing!
I’ve tried making tabbouleh before (many, many years ago) and didn’t care for it much. But this one sounds definitely worth trying.
This one is worth the effort, for sure! If you like parsley and lemon, I bet you would enjoy it.
Jamie | The Kitchenarium
Mediterranean food is always so good but I think if I was forced to chose I would have to pick Mexican food. I like this fresh spin on tabbouleh.
I think fresh Mexican food would be my second pick!
This sounds fantastic! Why have I never thought to put tabbouleh in a lettuce cup? So perfect for summer.
This looks absolutely gorgeous! Will almost definitely be trying this out xx
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
Ohhhh girl, this looks perfect!! Love, love, love the avocado in there!
Hi Kate! Looks fabulous-can’t wait to try it!! Is there any other herb you can think of that would be a good substitute for mint? Check out my blog if you get a chance :)
Hi Mary! You can certainly just skip the mint altogether. Basil would go well with the other flavors, if you want a less conventional tabbouleh.
Looks beautiful. Can I try the recipe with Quinoa for the gluten-free version?
Hi Nina, yes, quinoa will work great! You don’t need much, maybe just 2/3 cup cooked quinoa.
Jessie @ Chasing Belle
Kate you sure know the way to a veggie lovers heart! Fresh and whole ingredients in such pretty colors – I love it! Plus it has avocado so it’s gotta be good :)
Thank you, Jessie!
I’ve been meaning to get this book for a while! Check out Louisa Shafia’s New Persian Kitchen too–it’s not vegetarian but there are a ton of already vegetarian dishes (and vegan as well) and she gives a vegetarian version of almost every meat dish. And everything I’ve made from it so far has been delicious!
Thank you for the rec, Jade! I just added it to my list.
Is there any dish that’s more perfect for summer than tabbouleh?! Doubtful. Totally making a batch of this every week until the temps cool down!
This sounds absolutely delicious, my perfect summer dish!
I think I’d have to pick Mediterranean food to eat for the rest of my life too! There is so much variety, so much freshness, and also so much decadence. Perfect! I love the idea of adding avocado to the tabbouleh. I’m also curious to try it out with the curly parsley, as I’ve always made it with flat-leaf. Definitely saving this to try out, and adding the book to my ever-growing list of cookbooks I need in my life!
Glad you’re with me on the Mediterranean food! I read somewhere that flat-leaf is more traditional, but after trying this one, I’d say I prefer it with curly. It adds a little more volume and lightness to the salad, I think.
Avocado is not my favourite. Nope. But I know how healthy it is so I do try to eat it. I’ll have to try this recipe is search of a perfect avocado dish!
This recipe was full of flavor and nice but there was way too much lemon in it for both my and my husband’s tastes, and that was after cutting down (we used 1 large lemon instead of two mediums). I guess it’s just a preference thing.
I’m sorry to hear that, Jessica. I’ll adjust the recipe to suggest adding lemon to taste.
We added extra olive oil to tame the lemon flavor so it still ended up quite delicious :) Thanks for the recipe.
Ok, good. I’m glad it was still tasty!!! Thank you for letting me know.
I might need to get that cookbook. I’m with you in that I could (and would likely pick) Mediterranean to eat all the time. This is such a gorgeous salad!
Looks so yummy! Going to try this recipe. And BTW – your dog is simply the most adorable!
Thank you, Ania! I agree. :)
Sharon @ Savormania
Tabbouleh is one of my favorite salads. I couldn’t wait to try this recipe and loved it so much! The avocado really brings it a new twist. The only ingredient I added was some cumin and it was delicious!
If I’m understanding the recipe correctly, you don’t cook the bulgur?
Yes, that’s correct. You just need the fine variety and it will “cook” when you soak it.
This looks like a wonderful recipe and I’m anxious to try it! Eating tabouli with lettuce leaves is the traditional way that tabouli has been eaten for generations! And I agree with you, not just because it’s my heritage, but Mediterranean / Middle Eastern food is my favorite !
I’m glad you love it! Thank you for sharing, Liz.