Salad For Lunch: 3 New Ways To Do Tabouli

Tabouli is one of those dishes with a million recipes that are all basically good. The Middle Eastern salad screams warm weather so loudly it's genuinely hard to enjoy it in the colder months. Also, winter produce sucks, and this is a produce-heavy situation: your own ratios of finely chopped parsley and mint, finely diced cucumber, tomato and onion or scallion (or both, if you have your own workspace), and tons of extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, plus your preferred amount of the following options:


No news here, the second health nuts replaced bulgur with quinoa it became a regular in the rotation along with "gross macrobiotic peanut linguine" and "salad of too many grains." Quinoa shares bulgur's chewy bite and nutty flavor with none of the gluten and a delightful lunch-friendly protein boost. But don't use the white stuff when there's red. Red quinoa not only makes a great backdrop for the other colors, I think it has more flavor and holds its texture better, especially when toasted. Shake the quinoa around in a hot dry pan for 30 seconds before cooking — you'll see what I mean.


Buckwheat groats make the best salads. There's so much flavor in those little kernels, you could literally toss them with any salad ingredients and have an awesome side. And, like quinoa, if you can cook rice you can cook perfect buckwheat. It's higher in fiber than bulgur wheat and makes for a more aesthetically pleasing salad, if you're keeping an eye out for that. Sorry, bulgur. At a certain point, it all boils down to Instagram.

Israeli couscous

In my humble opinion, this pearl-shaped pasta stuff has the most amazing texture and, like quinoa and buckwheat, can and should be mixed with any traditional, weird and even "sorry, I'm new at this vegan thing" salad ingredients. Take care to cook it al dente and toss it with olive oil if you're going to make it into a salad so it doesn't lose its toothsome "bounce" and feel free to toss chopped beets in the mix if you like they way they loan their color to a willing volunteer like Israeli couscous.

One more thing: this is not authentic at all, but I've yet to make a batch of tabouli that wasn't improved by crumbled feta. If I was going for authenticity, my lunch would have no cheese in it.

More Middle Eastern food for lunch on Food Republic: