Friday, July 25, 2014

Easy cabbage tabbouleh

Add some healthy whole grains to your summer meal salads with this easy, no-cook recipe for cabbage tabbouleh, a riff on the traditional Middle Eastern favorite.

easy recipe for healthy cabbage tabbouleh

With the onset of the summer heat, we all start looking for cool, no-cook dinner recipes, don't we? You bet we do: Just take a look at your favorite food boards on Pinterest and you'll see what I mean.

Yet "no-cook" often turns into shorthand for "salad." So we end up eating lots of salads, which, let's face it, can get pretty boring. I like to incorporate more filling meal salads like this cabbage tabbouleh into my summertime repertoire.

Tabbouleh is an traditional Middle Eastern dish, composed largely of tomatoes, parsley, mint and onion, often with a grain mixed in, and finished with a lemony oil dressing. To be honest, I don't really like traditional tabbouleh. Something about the amount of parsley in it is just a bit overwhelming for me.  A little too earthy, too tart ... oh, I don't know, a little too something.

But I do like the idea of tabbouleh -- a simple, easy grain and veg salad, cool and quick to prepare.

Since I've been expanding my whole grain horizons (I no longer immediately think of the rhyme "bulgur is vulgar" when I see a bag of it), I decided to give tabbouleh another chance when I came across this recipe that substitutes cabbage for all that too-something-something parsley. Heck yeah!

Preparing bulgur is pretty cool, too (not, in fact, vulgar after all). The bulgur available at your local market is parboiled and dried, which means that it only needs a good soaking before it is ready to use in a recipe. Yep: no cooking! Bulgur allows you to add some whole grain goodness to a dish with no heat and little effort involved, making it ideal for summer meal salads.

Now, tabbouleh is traditionally a vegetarian dish -- but you know how this meatasaurus rolls. I simply had to add some cooked chicken to this cabbage tabbouleh for it to feel like a truly hearty meal. But it's also perfectly lovely with no additional protein, as a standalone dish or a quick-and-easy side.

Additionally, if you've been growing any mint this summer, this cabbage tabbouleh will be your new best friend, as the recipe calls for quite a bit of the prolific herb.

Are you a fan of grain salads in general and/or tabbouleh in particular? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

easy recipe for healthy cabbage tabbouleh

Cabbage Tabbouleh

(adapted from Bon Appetit)
As written, this recipe makes about 3-4 servings but is easily doubled for a crowd. Feel free to omit the cooked chicken for a more authentically vegetarian dish.

1/2 cup quick-cooking bulgur (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
3 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 pint grape tomatoes (or about 2 cups of any bite-sized tomato), halved
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup diced cooked chicken (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the bulgur and 3/4 cup boiling water in a bowl and let stand until the bulgur is softened and the water absorbed (about 20 minutes). Place the bulgur and all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with additional salt.
-- print recipe --


  1. Julianne, I apologize for being SO behind on following YKN! My summer schedule has hijacked my blog reading time!! So about this recipe...YUM! Loving everything about it. Big cabbage fan here but I almost never make it. Go figure. Now I have a great cabbage recipe to try. Great post!

    1. I have been really out of the loop, too, Bill, what with the big move and all -- so no worries! I'm glad I could help you out with a new cabbage recipe. Enjoy!