Grain-Free Tabouli Salad with Mint and Olives (gluten-free, vegan, ACD)


This month's SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient is mint, one of my favorite herbs. So, here we go!

I love the way that Middle Eastern food uses mint in savory dishes. One of my favorite Middle Eastern salads is tabouli. I adore tabouli!  When I stopped eating wheat and could no longer make tabouli with the traditional bulgar, I started using quinoa and millet instead, which works like a charm. Right now I'm on a grain break, so my standard gluten-free tabouli isn't really in the cards.  Desperate to satisfy my tabouli cravings, I was trying to come up with ways to make a decent grain-free tabouli salad.  I have seen recipes for tabouli made with finely chopped nuts or seeds, but the thought of eating that much nut or seed in one sitting along with other foods is a little overwhelming to my digestion. Then it came to me - cauliflower "rice" is so delicious, why not use it as a stand-in for bulgar in tabouli?

Hey, where there's a will, there's a way.

I am fulfilling my bi-yearly housesitting gig, and have access to a beautiful backyard and patio that just screams "dinner party!". So, I had my friends B and D over for dinner on Monday to discuss the last of their wedding plans with me - they are getting married this week Friday, and I am doing their flower arrangements.  I am purchasing 30 bouquets of fresh summer flowers from a local grower, growing some flowers in my garden, and foraging other things from undisclosed locations, and will be creating table arrangements, boutennieres, and B's bouquet. It will be colorful, lively, and full of everything from marigolds to zinnias to gladiolas to Swiss chard leaves and baby cabbages. So fun! I'll share photos after the fact, I promise.

Since I knew that B and D would give me good feedback, I took advantage of the opportunity to try out my grain-free tabouli idea on them. They both loved it, and agreed that you would never know it wasn't bulgar. I agree! In fact, I think I like it better than tabouli made with grain, because it isn't as heavy.  The cauliflower substituted bulgar so well, especially after I sauteed it and spiced it with a little cumin and coriander to give it a light brown color and a nutty, earthy flavor. Mixed with all the other tabouli fixins - minus tomatoes, of course - it was a flavorful and light addition to our rather International dinner. I  In addition to my tabouli, I served a spiced avocado dip in place of traditional Greek potato-garlic dip, broiled herbed zucchini from the farmers market, Indian-spiced homemade zucchini pickles, Moroccan olives, and some thin slices homemade coconut flour bread in place of that awesome Afghani flatbread.  

looks like tabouli, tastes like tabouli, must be tabouli

dining al fresco with International fare - ah, summer!

While my tabouli certainly won us all over, I must admit that the star of the meal was the rotisserie chicken from The Holy Land, my favorite Middle Eastern bakery and deli.  These rotisserie chickens are the best I've ever had, next to the ones that I got at the street market in Vendôme, France.  This is an explanation of what makes Holy Land chickens so damn good, taken directly from their web page dedicated to chicken

The world’s finest and most flavorful chicken raised in the Old World way-on free range farms in the Amish heartland. 100% vegetarian fed, No antibiotics, NO by-products, NO artificial ingredients.  Humanely hand slaughtered, raised, processed, packed and distributed by and under the strict guidelines of Islamic dietary laws.  The result is chicken that is superior in nutrition, color, and taste and it is in keeping with the strictest interpretation of Halal ways.

Halal food = awesome food.

Anyway, since this is a vegan challenge, I'm going to stop talking about chicken and move on to the star of this post, my tabouli, and the SOS Challenge.

What will you make with mint this month? The sweet and savory opportunities are endless! So many tasty desserts, so many fun beverages, and so many cuisines to choose from - Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern, Afghani, the list goes on.  For all the details on how to participate, check out the kick-off post, and then get cookin'! And be sure to check out the Linky at the bottom of this post for all the current event submissions.

Grain-Free Tabouli Salad with Mint and Olives

yield 6-8 servings

Spiced, finely chopped cauliflower makes an impressive stand-in for bulgar in this low carb, grain-free tabouli salad. Full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy fat, this is a light and flavorful accompaniment to any meal.

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded, peeled and chopped
  • 4-6 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (loosely packed)
  • 1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped (loosely packed)
  • 1/4 cup black dry Moroccan olives, pitted and minced (Moroccan black olives are salt-cured and vinegar free)
  • olive oil
  • fresh lemon juice or vitamin C crystals, to taste
  • salt and pepper, as needed

Wash cauliflower well and chop into 1 or 1 1/2 inch chunks.  Place half the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until you have small rice-sized pieces.  Transfer to a bowl and repeat process with remaining cauliflower.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes, then add all of the cauliflower and stir to coat with oil and mix with garlic, and add cumin and coriander. Saute for about 10 minutes, or longer as needed, stirring often. Cook until cauliflower begins to brown and become fragrant, but is not totally mushy and soft. Remove from heat, and place in a bowl or shallow pan in the refrigerator to cool to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes. 

While cauliflower cools, prepare remaining ingredients. Toss together in a bowl. Add cooled cauliflower and toss to mix, adding a few glugs of olive oil and lemon juice or vitamin C crystals to taste. I probably used about 1 tsp of vitamin C crystals, or you could probably use the juice of 1 lemon, depending on how acidic and bity you like it - start with less and gradually add more to your tastes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, as needed, and serve. Serve at room temperature for best flavor, so if making ahead of time, remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving.

Other gluten-free, grain-free tabouli salads:

SOS Kitchen Challenge Submissions

1. Grain-Free Tabouli Salad by Kim at Affairs of Living (GF, ACD, vegan, grain-free)

2. Ricki: Mint Chip Ice Cream

3. Maca-mint blondies

4. Mint-infused cream tarts

5. Turkish Bulgur, Pomegranate and Almond Salad @ The Taste Space

6. Maple-Chili Grilled Tofu with Blueberry-Peach Salsa @ The Taste Space

7. Baba Ganouj Quinoa Patties with Mint Tahini Sauce

8. Indian Dahl with Mint Cilantro Chutney

9. Frozen Mint Mojito Avocado Truffles

10. Turkish Barley and Sour Cashew Creme Soup

11. Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Salad/Dip

12. Chickpea, lemon and mint soup - green gourmet giraffe

13. Spanish Chickpea Salad with Capers and Roasted Red Peppers @ The Taste Space

14. Cold Thai Rice Paper Rolls with Cilantro, Mint & Basil (Ricki)

15. Not-So-Faux After Eights

16. Pomegranate Tabbouleh Salad

17. Roasted Eggplant, Red Pepper and Green Bean Pomegranate Salad @ The Taste Space

18. Steamed Potatoes with Mint-Parsley Dressing

19. Coconut Milk Mint Chip Ice Cream

20. Another Minty Tabouleh and Figs for Dessert

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Happy Cooking!