Cauliflower Rice Tabbouleh ~ a twist on the glorious Middle Eastern cracked wheat salad, made low carb and grain free using cauliflower rice. This is a light, clean, and healthy vegan salad that’s always a conversation starter.
what is cauliflower rice?
- cauliflower rice is simply raw cauliflower florets that have been pulsed in a food processor until they break down into a ‘grainy’ consistency like rice or couscous. It can be used raw, like I’ve done today, or you can steam it for a hot dish.
- cauliflower rice can be used as a grain substitute in lots of recipes, from tabbouleh to stir fries, and more. It can simply stand in for rice as a low carb side dish.
- You can make cauliflower rice with brightly colored orange, green, or purple cauliflower too, so get creative!
I tried cauliflower rice for the first time a while back, and I was amazed at how easy it was to do, and how it really did look and act like rice. Only trouble was I couldn’t think of anything that I wanted to do with my cauliflower rice because, on its own, it’s a little bit…blah. The idea of using it as a base for tabbouleh was just the thing to turn me into a big fan.
what you’ll need for cauliflower rice tabbouleh
- cauliflower ~ look for a bright white head with no blemishes or brown spots. Bonus points if the leaves are still attached, it’s an indicator of freshness.
- cherry tomatoes ~ available all year round, these juicy gems are priceless in a fall and winter salad.
- red onion ~ I love the subtle bite of red onion in my salads.
- cucumbers ~ look for the small ones, they’re more tender.
- fresh parsley and mint ~ these provide a fresh green element and lots of flavor.
- pine nuts ~ the secret ingredient that takes this salad over the top, but be sure to toast them first.
- extra virgin olive oil ~ get the best you can afford.
- lemon juice ~ fresh, not bottled!
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
tabbouleh is a perfectly balanced salad
I make it all the time without tinkering with a thing. But swapping the bulgur wheat for this fluffy cauliflower rice is a nice change ~ and a game changer if you’re eating gluten free or cutting carbs.
Without the customary grain base this dish is light as a feather, and you can make it year round with sweet colorful cherry tomatoes, cukes, and fresh herbs, which are always available.
How do you make cauliflower rice?
Break apart a head of cauliflower into smaller florets. Trim the excess stems and discard. (The upper parts of the stems are fine to leave on)
Put the florets into a food processor and pulse until the florets break down. You can run the machine for a few seconds, and then open up and check. Cauliflower is a soft vegetable so this happens quickly. If the grains aren’t a consistent size, like couscous, scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few more times. That’s it, you’ve made cauliflower rice! (See the video for a demonstration.)
The prep for cauliflower rice tabbouleh is even easier than with cracked wheat.
What’s with the smell?
There is a distinctive odor to cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Once you process your cauliflower you’ll begin to smell it, it’s a little sulphur-y. The good news is that once you mix your cauliflower rice with the rest of the salad ingredients the smell will dissipate.
If you plan on making your cauliflower rice ahead of time, keep it in a tightly sealed airtight container in the fridge.
every salad needs a decadent element
I grounded this light cauliflower rice tabbouleh with toasted pine nuts. There not traditional in tabbouleh but they add welcome touch of richness to the dish. If you don’t eat nuts you might try sunflower seeds, or crumbled feta cheese.
If you’re feeling adventurous you could do a version of my Jeweled Tabbouleh with the cauliflower rice, now that would be pretty!
Cauliflower Rice Tabbouleh
- food processor (for making the cauliflower rice)
- 1 small to medium head of cauliflower
- 2 cups halved small cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 small red onion finely minced
- 1 small cucumber finely chopped
- 1 large handful finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 handful finely chopped fresh mint
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- olive oil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- lemon wedges
- fresh mint leaves
- Remove the bottom core from the cauliflower and break into sections. Remove most of the stems, and break apart into large florets. Add the florets to the bowl of a food processor. I do this in two batches. Pulse the machine, about 20 to 30 times, stopping a few times to scrape down the bowl and check the progress. You want the cauliflower to become evenly and finely crumbled. Pulse a few more times if necessary. Turn the cauliflower rice into a large bowl.
- Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and toast the pine nuts over medium to medium low heat until they turn fragrant and nutty brown. Stir almost constantly so they don’t burn.
- Add the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and fresh herbs to the cauliflower and toss to combine.
- Whisk the dressing together and taste to adjust to your liking.
- Toss the tabbouleh with the dressing, then top with the pine nuts, fresh mint leaves, and lemon wedges. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
- Cauliflower tabbouleh can be made up to a day ahead. I prefer to add the tomatoes at the last minute because they don’t do well in the refrigerator.