This nutrient-dense, ultra-refreshing take on the Mediterranean classic is a warm-weather lunchtime staple in my kitchen. (Wait, I live in Florida, so it's really an almost-always staple...)
I have already waxed poetic about my love of parsley; this dish incorporates that superfood herb with other friendly ingredients such as carotenoid and potassium-packed tomato, healthy-fat-powerhouses tahini and sunflower seed, omega-3-rich hemp seed, potentially-cancer-preventing cauliflower, and all-around-rockstar cucumber (seriously, you'll want to click that one once you've finished reading the recipe). Most importantly, it tastes great while providing light-yet-sustaining satisfaction.
Classic tabbouleh utilizes bulgur wheat and sometimes also pine nuts to add bulk, fiber, and that distinctive, toothsome texture. While a lower-glycemic choice than many grains -- bulgur ranks on the lower-end of "moderate" where glycemic load is concerned -- my VLGL tabbouleh utilizes super-low-glycemic cauliflower rice baked until crisp for that textural base and a mixture of sunflower and hemp seeds combined with a creamy-dreamy tahini dressing for a solid base of plant-powered protein. Needless to say, this is "tabbouleh" with a lot of liberties taken to make it into a one-bowl meal.
One more awesome aspect of this dish before we get cooking: if prepared correctly (read: if you cut the cucumber and tomato into reasonably thick chunks), it should stay tasty in the fridge for up to four days. Quite excellent as you are a busy human, like so many of us are.
RECIPE: VLGL tabbouleh
- 1 1/2 cups raw cauliflower rice (approximately half of a large head; for this recipe, use fresh, rather than frozen)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 coarsely diced, large cucumber
- 2 coarsely diced, medium tomatoes
- 1 cup raw or roasted sunflower steps (skip the roasting step below if using pre-roasted)
- 1/8 cup raw hemp seeds
- juice of two large lemons
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon sesame or olive oil (sesame imparts a richer flavor, but if you don't have it, don't rush out and buy it)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Preheat your oven to 420°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Prepare your cauliflower rice as such: Using a handled or box-style cheese grater with large ("soft cheese") holes, grate the head of raw cauliflower into rice-size pieces.
- Toss the cauliflower rice with the tablespoon of olive oil until evenly coated. Spread across the parchment paper in an even layer. Bake for 7-10 minutes, stirring when the cauliflower has begun to turn golden; bake for an additional 7-10 minutes, and remove from the oven when some of the cauliflower has taken on a golden-brown hue (really watch it and be careful not to burn). Allow to completely cool before utilizing.
- To toast the sunflower and hemp seeds, line a roasting dish with parchment paper, and place in the still-hot oven for 2-4 minutes OR, if using a toaster oven (what I usually do), toast on the lightest pre-timed setting. Also allow these to completely cool before adding to the tabbouleh.
- Make the dressing by whisking the lemon juice, tahini, sesame oil, water, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes together until a smooth, thick dressing is formed. (See the photos below for desired thickness; it will indeed be thick, but will naturally "thin out" when combined with the watery cucumber and tomato.) Taste and add more seasoning, if desired.
- Place the cucumber, tomato, parsley, mint, and cooled cauliflower, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top and toss well to combine.
Serve with love. Ideally, if you have it in you, do all things with love... but especially things involving delicious, nourishing food.