Gluten free Tabbouleh Salad with parsnips instead of bulgar wheat is light and satisfying, full of delicious fresh flavors, and one of my favorite mediterranean recipes. Simple ingredients like tomatoes and fresh herbs, green onions and crispy cucumbers create a whole new level of side dish perfection.
This post has been updated from the original posted on April 27, 2016.
A classic middle eastern dish is given a modern twist with a secret ingredient that becomes the star of the show! Spoiler alert: riced parsnips fill in for the bulgur wheat grains that are in traditional tabbouleh recipes…with flavor, crunch and so much added nutrition!
Add some baba ghanoush, cauliflower hummus, falafel and pita bread or romaine leaves to this delicious tabbouleh salad for an extraordinary vegan mezze platter with complete protein and incredible great taste.
Why you’ll love this Gluten-free Tabbouleh Salad
- Fresh tomatoes + Fresh herbs = WINNING combo!
- Easy Peasy! No separate dressing to make….squeeze the lemons and drizzle the olive oil.
- Meal Prep Friendly. I think it tastes better the next day!
- Healthy salad can be served as a side dish or add in some beans or nuts for a plant-based healthy meal.
- Easy recipe that’s made with fresh vegetables.
Main Ingredients and Substitutions
- Parsnips: They offer a bit of a nutty flavor and are so easy to pulse into grain-like little pieces. You could substitute with cauliflower rice or cooked quinoa and still have a gluten-free tabouli that’s nutritious and delicious.
- Tomatoes: Small tomatoes are best. Use cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, pear tomatoes in any combination of colors and sizes will work.
- Scallions: spring onions, green onions or even red onion will offer great flavor.
- Cucumber: I used small persian cukes, english cucumbers are another great choice. The important part is that you choose a firm, crisp cucumber.
- Fresh parsley: I prefer flat-leaf parsley, even though curly parsley is most often used in tabbouleh recipes.
- Fresh mint: Mint leaves are bursting with fresh flavor.
- Lemon: For the best flavor, use both the lemon zest and juice.
- Olive oil: The healthy fats, like those found in extra virgin olive oil, aid in the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins found in the fresh herbs.
More Healthy Parsnip Recipes
Parsnips are rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber. They have anti-inflammatory properties and help stabilize blood pressure. They get a bad wrap for being higher in carbohydrates than some veggies, but they are low in calories and rich in fiber…which helps with blood sugar regulation.
How to make it
You’ll need a food processor to turn whole parsnips into something that resembles whole grains. If you don’t have one, use cauliflower rice that will be easy to find in your local grocery store in the produce section or you can buy frozen cauli-rice.
Clean scallions of dirt and debris with running water. Trim off root end and then thinly slice both the white and green parts. Set aside.
Trim the ends off cucumbers, slice lengthwise into ¼s, then cut into ¼″ pieces. Set aside in a small bowl.
Remove stems from tomatoes and then halve lengthwise. For larger tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces.
Stack mint leaves and then finely chop. Discard parsley stems and chop parsley leaves as well.
Trim both ends of parsnips and peel. Then cut into 2″ pieces.
Place parsnip chunks into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade.
Process parsnips until they are small enough to resemble bulgur wheat.
Place the riced parsnips in a large bowl and then add the fresh parsley, mint, cucumber, green onions and tomatoes.
Zest the lemons right over the bowl of chopped veggies.
Sprinkle salt and pepper onto veggies, juice lemons over the bowl, drizzle olive oil over everything.
Mix until everything is well incorporated. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper, if desired.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- For best results, use a whole lot of parsley…it’s what gives this it’s fabulous fresh taste.
- Serve as a side salad, or add some plant based protein like chick peas, or sunflower seeds to make this gluten free tabbouleh a complete meal.
- Make ahead, and give the flavors a chance to marinate and intensify.
- Grain-free tabbouleh tastes best at room temperature.
- Store finished tabbouleh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, though it will begin to get limp after 3 days. If you need to make a few days in advance, leave the tomatoes stored separately from the rest of the ingredients and do not dress until same day.
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Gluten free Tabbouleh Salad with Parsnips
- 1 lb. parsnips riced
- 2 cups grape tomatoes* cut in half
- 4 mini persian cucumbers or 1 english cucumber
- 1 bunch scallions thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves chopped
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves chopped
- 2 lemons zested and juiced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- Trim and peel parsnips. Cut into 2" chunks and add to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the "S" blade. Process until finely ground, the consistency of bulgur. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Prep remaining veggies: Wash and pat dry tomatoes, then cut in half. Trim cucumbers, slice in quarters lengthwise and then into ½" pieces. Thinly slice scallions. Add all to the large bowl with the parsnips.
- Stack the mint and parsley leaves and then chop into small pieces. Add to the bowl.
- Zest lemon over the bowl. Squeeze the juice onto the veggies. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over entire mixture and then drizzle on the olive oil. Mix until everything is well incorporated.
- Tabbouleh tastes best served at room temperature. This salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week, but it will begin to taste a bit soggy after 3 days.