Winter tabbouleh

February 17, 2011  •  Category:


After this past National Tabouleh day contest in Beirut’s souk el tayeb, where tabboulehs of all stripes were entered, including a lovely one with pink geranium petals, I thought I would introduce my version of winter tabbouleh.

Tabbouleh is the national salad of Lebanon and our pride and joy; unfortunately most often than not misrepresented abroad. It is supposed to be a showcase of a typical Lebanese kitchen garden’s bounty, with the main ingredient being parsley, then mint, tomatoes, onion and then, a very timid sprinkle of fine bulgur. In France, however,  tabboulé is often made with couscous, not bulgur, and has almost no parsley!

Question: Do you think that a traditional dish needs to be made according to strict parameters, forever?

This winter version of tabbouleh uses shredded cabbage, chick peas, a sprinkling of dried mint, onion and the usual lemon and olive oil dressing. It is crunchy, lemony, hearty and light at the same time.


  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cups of shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup of bulgur
  • 1 cup of chick peas
  • 1/4 cup of minced shallots or red onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced and mashed with a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup (or more) of olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoon of sumac
  • 2 Tablespoon of ground dried mint


  1. Shred the cabbage very fine and place in a large bowl. Peel the chick peas and place in the bowl with the cabbage. Pour very hot water over the bulgur in a small bowl and let the grains swell for 10 minutes or so until tender. Drain the bulgur of its water, pressing on the sieve to extract all the remaining water. Place the bulgur in the bowl with the cabbage and chick peas.
  2. Peel the cloves of garlic and mince; place in a mortar with a pinch of salt and pound till the garlic and salt form a paste. Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl and add the juice of a lemon and the olive oil as well as the sumac and mint. Whisk vigorously and transfer to the salad bowl. Mix all the ingredients. When ready to serve, cut the avocado in half and remove seed and peel. Sprinkle the avocado with lemon and cut in slices, garnishing the salad with it.


38 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Priya says:

    Such an interesting tabbouleh..cant wait to try..

  2. Rosa says:

    I love this version! As a matter of fact, I think I have a slight preference for this one.



  3. Lyndsey says:

    Oooo….I want to try this!

  4. weirdcombos says:

    I think variety is the spice of life. It’s always nice to try different versions of a dish and then later go back to the original. Plus you get the chance to use whatever mother nature has to offer at that particular time of the year. This looks like an excellent version of original tabbouleh. I am already thinking of making this tabbouleh and eating wrapped in a taco tortilla yumm, 🙂

  5. Mark Wisecarver says:

    Ooooh I would have loved to see that contest. 🙂

  6. Emil says:

    AHH sounds delicious but it aint the way you do tabbouleh! Love the combo of ingredients shall try it tonight.

  7. The Nervous Cook says:

    You must’ve read my mind — not only was I just wondering today why some tabbouleh is made with bulgur and some with couscous, but I also wanted to find the perfect recipe for it. Two birds, one stone! (I love tabbouleh so much.)

  8. Claudia says:

    I love this dressed withg parsley but sometimes a dish of parsley is too much. I love your crunch and contrasts and that all is accessible this time of year. Traditions do change ove time – but the culture of a cuisine seems to stay.

  9. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    Very interesting. I have always had it with a lot of parsley but I like this cabbage version.

  10. Scienter says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for a while and everything I’ve tried from it has been awesome! I’ll definitely give this a try. I love tabbouleh, but sometimes I don’t feel like chopping all that parsley. I adore avocado and my hubby loves shallots so this should be a hit at my place. 🙂

  11. Devaki says:

    What a fantastic twist on an old tradition and who better to do the twist! Alas, the only tabbouleh I know of is the one with parsley..sigh….This would be delish with some kababs – I must keep this in mind the next time I do tandoori :0

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  12. Stella says:

    I don’t know, Joumana. I kind of like the idea of knowing what I’m going to get if I say
    ‘tabbouleh, please’, but I also understand using whatever fresh ingredients are on hand. Plus, your winter tabbouleh looks so good:-)!

  13. Sue says:

    That looks absolutely delicious! I love cabbage and garbanzos. I agree that sometimes it’s good to put your own spin on a traditional dish.

  14. Ivy says:

    Variation is always good and interesting and surely I would love this salad as well.

  15. Katerina says:

    Now you touched a very sensitive matter. For some when a traditional dish is made it has to be exactly as is originally. I am not a purist in food. Sometimes it is difficult to find all the ingredients required for a specific dish. For example the feta and olive oil they use in the States has absolutely no comparison to the ones we use here. I have seen several variations of pastitsio, moussaka, dolmathes, etc. that are totally different from what we make here. I think that it is a good thing to know what exactly each dish consists of and then be free to recreate, mentioning the fact that this is not how traditionally is made but just a tweak of it. That is how I would have done. I like your winter version of tabbouleh, it takes it one step further.

  16. Chiara says:

    First of all, I think your version sounds great… I love avocado so anything made with it is an instant hit with me. Also, thanks for pointing out that it should be made with only a little bulgur, I didn’t know that… guess I always had the French versions which are mostly bulgur!
    As far as tradition goes, I think that if you are going to call a dish with its traditional name i.e. pasta carbonara, then you should stick to the original recipe because that’s what people expect… just my two cents =)

  17. Eftychia says:

    This dish looks so tasty and healthy as well. I will give it a try soon.

  18. Eftychia says:

    This dish looks so tasty and healthy as well. I will give it a try soon. Thank you for sharing!

  19. Mely(mexicokitchen) says:

    I so much like the idea of the cabbage in this recipe. I think is the perfect addition to give a little more crunch.


  20. Joanne says:

    I think the whole POINT of cooking is to mix things up a bit. Otherwise we’d all eat the same things all the time and life would get pretty boring.

    I love the sound of this winter tabbouleh! Avocadoes make me happy.

  21. deana says:

    I have never thought of putting ingredients like that into tabbouleh…. usually tomatoes and such… nice to know you can be so creative and still call it tabbouleh. Love the cabbage and avocado combination!

  22. Ann says:

    Hello Joumana – hope you are having a lovely time in lebanon, and all is well despite everything happening in the Middle East? I LOVE tabbouleh, this recipe looks so enticing, though. Would love to give it a try. I am on the fence with changing recipes. In some ways, I think traditional recipes need to be honored with their ingredients otherwise they will be forgotten, but on the flip side, I also think people should be allowed license to interchnage ingredients and reinterpret based on their own limitations and likes.

  23. Mary says:

    Your tabbouleh is really gorgeous and I’d really love to sample it. I think its wonderful to play with recipes but I always give them a completely different name to encourage people to try it. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  24. sensiblecooking says:

    well I don’t mind trying different version of traditional dish, but if you don’t do it exactly the way it was done, I feel the dish will lose its traditional touch and become a new dish.

  25. Patricia says:

    Magnifique ton taboulé, il remporte tous mes suffrages. Je ne connais pas cette version, bien sûr, puisque la France est comme tu le dis, à contrario des véritables recettes sur les Taboulés.
    Mais le tien est splendide et doit être savoureux avec le chou, l’échalote (ou oignon rouge que j’aime beaucoup) et l’avocat … un pur régal..
    Excellent week-end

  26. Magic of Spice says:

    Personally I find making changes to classic dishes is part of the fun…I love your version of this dish and I adore avocado 🙂

  27. SYLVIA says:

    I love this twist on traditional tabouleh, instead of parsley but with cabbage. Packed with nutrients and bold flavors, this salad is very pretty on the plate, and perfect for stylish winter lunch.

  28. from BA to Paris says:

    I love knowing about the real version….to change it, to adapt it….Your twist with avocado is a “must-try” !!

  29. Diane says:

    Anytjing with avocado HAS to be good. Yum yum.Diane

  30. A Canadian Foodie says:

    But how is this tabouleh? Tabouleh means parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, onions and bulgar to me – with fresh lemon and lovely olive oil – salt and pepper. I learned to make it from a Lebonese friend years ago – and the way you described – but not with a sprinkling of bulgar, with bulgar. However, it was not a main ingredients. It was equal to the chopped veggies which were all minced and fine and lush and lovely. It is such a celebration of all that is fresh in the garden. I think it is important to pass traditions on and for future generations to know what they are and the stories that go with them, but I also delight in them being turned on their head in modern cuisine.
    But, I would still need to recognize it as that dish somehow. Your salad looks really yummy – but nothing like anything I could recognize to be tabouleh!

  31. Foodycat says:

    I think this looks delicious! I’ve had tabbouleh with almost all dry, cloying bulgar and hardly any parsley and it is horrible. I’d much rather get a lovely, fresh, non-traditional salad like this.

  32. grace says:

    i certainly have never seen tabbouleh quite like this– i love it! admittedly, the avocado caught my eye, but everything else (particularly that dressing!) kept me intrigued. 🙂

  33. domi says:

    Cette version du taboulé d’ hiver a l’ air délicieuse…et nouvelle pour moi, bisous et bonne semaine

  34. Foodafok says:

    Incredibly beautiful salad.

  35. Eva says:

    This is the tastiest cabbage recipe ever! Never thought I would enjoy raw cabbage so much…perfect combination of flavours and textures, frugal and nutritious too! Well done

  36. candy crush saga says:

    What’s up every one, here every person is sharing such familiarity, so it’s nice to read this web site, and
    I used to pay a visit this webpage all the time.

  37. Varso says:

    This is a good looking , healthy & surely tasty SALAD but doesn’t have the main, basic ingredient PARSLEY.
    I love garlic & cabbage combination, but I can’t imagine any taboule dressing with garlic.

Add a Comment