There’s a new restaurant in town called The Peacock, located inside the Austin Proper Hotel. It’s one of the first “cool” (ie not hole-in-the-wall) truly Mediterranean spots we’ve had open up in town, with a menu full of colorful, healthy dishes inspired by North Africa, Greece, Israel & Lebanon – all meant for sharing.
In other words, exactly the food I love to eat, and my current craving for all things Mediterranean has extended to the dishes I’ve been experimenting with at home, too, like this cauliflower tabbouleh.
Last week I did a “test run” of the cozy date night at home that I’m planning for mine and Adam’s Valentine’s Day. I wanted to create a menu and capture some visual inspiration to share with you guys before the holiday, plus it gave me an excuse to tweak the recipes and make sure I had them right. I’ll be sharing the full menu and tabletop setup in a few days, but for now: let’s talk cauliflower tabbouleh.
Any other major tabbouleh lovers out there? For the uninitiated, it’s a traditional salad served across the middle east as part of a mezze (or selection of small appetizer dishes. Think hummus, pita, olives, salads, etc.) It’s usually a combination of tomatoes, onion, and bulgur combined with (what really does it for me) a major shower of herbs like parsley and mint. Like, way more herbs than we would typically add to a dish in the US — they’re more like the main salad component instead of just a garnish. Then it’s simply seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and it’s definitely a dish where the final product is so perfect, it’s almost hard to believe how few ingredients go into it.
My version is admittedly a very loose riff of on a traditional tabbouleh, but it includes a bunch of my favorite things and — gosh it’s so good. For the grains, instead of bulgur, I used a combo of 3 parts cauliflower rice (so healthy, more veg) with 1 part cooked farro (chewy and satisfies carb cravings.) Then I topped it with shaved fennel, pomegranate seeds, chopped pistachios, and alllll the herbs — mint, parsley, and dill. A maple-lemon vinaigrette and big pinch of sea salt took it over the top.
This version is really just as easy as the original, but feels a little more dressed up for a special night — plus, the ingredients are much more suited for the winter months (sorry tomatoes, not feeling you right now.) It makes great leftovers, too: I ate this one for lunch all week after the shoot. I’d love to hear if y’all give it a try, and check back next week for my new herby green falafel recipe and the full Valentine’s date night plan.
- 1 head cauliflower or 1 bag cauliflower rice
- 1 cup cooked farro (or any other cooked grain like quinoa, millet, or even rice.)
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
- 1/2 cup chopped mint
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped dill (optional)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- If using fresh cauliflower: bring salted water to a boil, and boil the cauliflower exactly 2 minutes. Strain cauliflower until dry, then pulse in food processor until sized to a small grain of bulgar.
- If using frozen cauliflower rice, follow package ingredients to prepare. This typically involves simply defrosting the cauliflower in a large non-stick pan until cooked through. Let it cool before adding to salad.
- To prepare the fennel, cut off the stalks, chop up some of the fronds to add to the salad (1/4 cup or so), and then thinly slice using a mandoline or a sharp knife.
- In a large bowl, combine 3 cups cauliflower rice, sliced fennel, pomegranates and pistachios (reserve a few of both for adding to top), fennel fronds, and all the herbs.
- In a mason jar or small bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Shake or whisk, then add just enough to salad to lightly coat ingredients.
- Toss well, taste for seasoning, then add reserved pistachios and pomegranates for garnish. Eat!