Jeweled Tabbouleh is a joyful cracked wheat salad studded with colorful, gem-like fruits and nuts…if your body is a temple, this is definitely something you’ll want to invite inside ;)
This recipe has been hanging out in my head for too long, I’m so glad I finally brought it to life. How could you not fall for this dish? Tabbouleh on its own is amazing, it’s one of my all time favorite salads, but when you top it with colorful bits of sweetness and crunch, you’ve got something extra special. It’s wonderful for holidays and gatherings because it keeps well, travels well, and it pretties up any table. But my family fell for it hard, so it makes regular appearances on the dinner table here. Tonight we’re having ours with chicken kebobs
The main point I want to get across about this salad is that it’s delicious. Tabbouleh is a traditional Lebanese dish made with bulgur wheat that’s been soaked and softened. It marinates in a simple dressing of really good fruity olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice. It’s mixed with TONS of fresh parsley and mint which gives it a unique refreshing flavor.
The ‘jewels’ in Jeweled Tabbouleh are chopped dried fruits and nuts that give the salad a beautiful look along with lots of contrast of flavor and texture. I’ve used classic Middle Eastern touches like almonds, pistachios, apricots and pomegranate seeds. The inspiration goes back to a opulent Persian dish called Jeweled Rice that was served at special occasions like weddings.
Typically tabbouleh is made with bulgur alone, but in this salad I combined it with wheat berries for a blend of textures. I liked it so much I think I will make my all tabbouleh this way from now on.
“What is the difference between wheat berries and bulgur?”
Wheat berries are the whole kernels of wheat, just as they grow on the stalk. They’re the least processed form of wheat you can get, and they need to be cooked, just like rice or other whole grains. Bulgur is made from wheat berries that have been parboiled, cracked, and then dried. All you need to do is soak it in boiling water to soften it. Sometimes bulgur is confused with cracked wheat, which is similar, but needs a longer cooking. All are protein rich and full of nutrients, and you can use them in place of other grains in both cold and hot dishes.
- 2 cups soaked cracked wheat (measure AFTER soaking)
- 2 cups cooked wheat berries (measure AFTER cooking)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 large bunches WELL WASHED fresh parsley, stems removed, finely minced (I pulsed it in a food processor)
- 1 small bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 English cucumber, finely diced (the kind that comes wrapped in plastic, don't peel)
- 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup raw pistachios, rough chopped
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, finely diced
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds, rough chopped
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
- You will need 2 cups soaked cracked wheat and 2 cups cooked wheat berries. Follow the directions on the packages. Once soaked and cooked, measure out 2 cups each and put in a large bowl.
- Mix the dressing by whisking the olive oil and lemon juice together. Pour it over the wheat and toss to combine well. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and lots of fresh cracked black pepper. Toss again.
- Add the minced parsley, mint, cucumber, and red onion, toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Toss the salad again, and taste to adjust any of the seasonings. When you are ready to serve, top with the 'jewels'. Garnish with a few mint or parsley leaves.
- You can certainly make Jeweled Tabbouleh with just the cracked wheat, which would be traditional. I used the wheat berries because I like the ‘chew’ factor that they add. Wheat berries and bulgur are available in most large grocery stores, and all health food and gourmet markets. Sometimes you’ll find them in the bulk bins.
- You can substitute other ‘jewels’ if you like…dried cranberries, walnuts, cashews, dates, or dried figs would all be good. Again, the bulk bins are good because you can take exactly the amount you need without having to buy a big package of each ingredient.
- Tabbouleh usually contains tomatoes, but I left them out in this recipe because I thought their flavor might clash with the dried fruits. Feel free to add them in if you like.
- Don’t skimp on the fresh parsley and mint, they give the salad it’s distinctive fresh flavor.
- If you want to try a classic tabbouleh, here’s my original recipe.