Tabbouleh bowls with shrimp are a delicious deep dive into the healthy Mediterranean diet ~ cracked wheat, fresh herbs, crisp veggies, and garlicky shrimp ~ yum!
Tabbouleh is a fluffy wheat and herb salad from the Middle East that’s been a staple in our family for decades. The combination of chewy wheat with masses of fresh herbs and crunchy veggies is tossed with olive oil and lemon to make one of the world’s most satisfying salads. Quick cooking garlicky shrimp turns these tabbouleh bowls into a favorite weeknight dinner.
these tabbouleh bowls are:
- an easy 30 minute meal that can be prepped ahead.
- made with fresh veggies that are available through fall and winter.
- super duper healthy.
- a way to get that salad-for-dinner experience when it’s not exactly hot and sunny out.
- packed with the benefits of the Mediterranean diet!
what you’ll need
- medium bulgur
- is a whole grain made from cracked wheat. It’s a staple ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. If you use fine bulgur you only need to soak it in very hot water to tenderize it. For medium bulgur we’ll boil it briefly in a saucepan.
- fresh parsley and fresh mint
- fresh herbs, and lots of them, are key to tabbouleh. I use a full bunch of parsley and mint. Don’t even think about using dried herbs!
- red onion
- cherry tomatoes
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- medium shrimp
- allow about 4 per bowl.
tabbouleh bowls start with bulgur (cracked wheat)
Bulgur is a healthy whole grain made from cracked wheat that has been parboiled and dried. It comes in different sizes that are used for different types of recipes:
1. Fine Bulgur:
- Fine bulgur has a small grain size, almost like couscous.
- Cooking Method: It doesn’t require cooking. Fine bulgur can be soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes, making it quick and convenient for salads like tabbouleh.
2. Medium Bulgur:
- Medium bulgur has a slightly larger grain size than fine bulgur.
- Cooking Method: Typically, medium bulgur is boiled in water using a 1:1.5 to 1:2 ratio of bulgur to water. It’s simmered for about 10-12 minutes, covered, until the water is absorbed. It’s excellent for pilafs, stuffing, or as a base for main dishes and is used for tabbouleh as well.
3. Coarse Bulgur:
- Coarse bulgur has a larger grain size, resembling small rice grains.
- Cooking Method: It requires more cooking time and a higher water-to-bulgur ratio (1:2 to 1:3). Coarse bulgur is boiled for 12-15 minutes until tender. It’s commonly used in dishes like kibbeh, stuffings, and casseroles.
how to put together a tabbouleh bowl with shrimp
- Cook or soak your bulgur.
- Dress with olive oil and lemon juice.
- Add fresh chopped herbs and veggies, and chill.
- Sauté shrimp with lemon and garlic.
- Spoon tabbouleh into bowls and top with hot shrimp.
why we love this!
Tabbouleh is one of my favorite ways to keep the fresh salad vibes going in colder weather. Onions, cukes, and cherry tomatoes are always available. So are fresh herbs. And I can make it ahead so all we have to do is top with our favorite protein and sit down to eat.
tabbouleh bowl faqs
How can I make these bowls gluten free?
- You can substitute cauliflower rice for the wheat bulgur, see my gluten free tabbouleh recipe here.
Can I make these bowls ahead?
- You can make the tabbouleh up to a day or so ahead (wait to add the tomatoes until ready to serve). Grain salads are ideal for healthy meal prep. I recommend sautéing the shrimp for these bowls just before serving, though.
What else can I use in place of shrimp?
we love grain salads!
Tabbouleh Bowls with Shrimp
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice Note: adjust the lemon juice to your own liking. You may want a little more.
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- crumbled goat or feta cheese
- lemon wedges
- fresh parsley or mint leaves
- Put the bulgur in a medium pan with 1 ½ cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes, or until most of the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork. Note: if using packaged bulgur follow the directions on the package.
- While the bulgur is cooking finely mince the parsley. You can do this with a knife, or in a food processor. Try to get it as fine and even as you can. Slice or snip the mint leaves into fine shreds.
- Add the parlsley and mint to the bulgur and toss to combine.
- Whisk together the dressing and taste to adjust to your liking. Add enough to the tabbouleh to moisten well, but don't drown it. (Reserve the extra dressing.) Toss the bulgur with the onion and cucumber and add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Note: do not add the tomatoes yet.
- Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Season both sides of the shrimp with salt and pepper. You can also add minced garlic at this stage for extra flavor, if desired. Toss the shrimp to ensure they are evenly coated with the seasonings.
- Place a skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil or butter. Allow the oil or butter to heat until it shimmers but doesn't smoke.
- Carefully add the seasoned shrimp to the hot pan in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. Let the shrimp cook without stirring for 1-2 minutes until the bottom side turns pink and opaque.
- Using tongs, flip the shrimp over to cook the other side. Let them cook for another 1-2 minutes until they are fully pink and opaque. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, as they can become rubbery if cooked for too long.
- Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the shrimp and sprinkle with parsley. Note: Once the shrimp are fully cooked, remove them from the pan immediately to prevent overcooking.
- Quarter the cherry tomatoes. Toss the tabbouleh with the rest of the dressing and the tomatoes. Serve in bowls, topped with shrimp and garnished with crumbled cheese, lemon wedges, and fresh herbs, if desired.