Cranberry Tabouli with Pumpkin Seeds

I used to be very pretentious when it came to Lebanese food. If I went to a Greek or Middle Eastern restaurant and came across a dish that didn’t look the way my grandmother used to make it, I’d put on airs and make faces with every bite, like a fussy child. At a work potluck recently, someone brought in stuffed grape vine leaves filled with pork, instead of lamb, and I gave them the cold shoulder for nearly a week.

Tabouli has always been one of the greatest offenders, as there are countless variations on its preparation (and spelling), many of which sadly involve being too stingy on parsley. Grocery store tabouli is one culprit: it consists mainly of bulghur wheat and offers the same satisfaction as munching on kitty litter (I’m guessing). My preference is to throw in heaps of parsley, cucumber and tomato, and making a complete meal out of it. The trouble is that I’m sometimes too lazy to undertake the lengthy task of finely chopping 2 bunches of parsley. I own a food processor, but with tabouli is just feels like cheating.

This easy-to-make recipe is a far cry from my Sito’s tabouli, but requires much less preparation and chopping. Although taking liberties with the classic Middle Eastern salad – and hopefully not offending the omnipotent Tabouli Gods by doing so – I know you won’t be disappointed with this version. I’ve reduced the parsley amounts and replaced the other ingredients with roasted pumpkin seeds and cranberries for a pleasant tartness. I’ve still used bulghur wheat here, but it would taste equally good with couscous or quinoa instead. If my grandmother ever asks, this will be our little secret. Shh.


1 cup bulghur wheat

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 cup boiling water

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped relatively finely

1/4 cup red onion, minced

1/4 cup green pumpkin seeds, unsalted and roasted

Juice from 1 lemon

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1 1/2 tbsp walnut oil (or olive oil if you don’t have any, though walnut oil is very nutty and aromatic and highly recommended)

3/4 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Bulghur wheat, not kitty litter


1. In a medium bowl combine uncooked bulghur and dried cranberries.  Add 1 cup boiling water, or enough to just barely cover the wheat. Let stand for 30 minutes until the water has been fully absorbed. If the bulghur is still hard, add a few extra tablespoons of boiling water and wait 10 extra minutes. Fluff mixture with a fork.

2. Roast the pumpkin seeds in frying pan over medium heat, for 5 minutes. Stir constantly and ensure they don’t burn.

3. Stir remaining ingredients, including pumpkin seeds, into bulghur wheat-cranberry mixture and toss. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.


About gentlemangourmet

My name is Mike and even though I’m not always a gentleman, it’s safe to say I am in love with food. Like my more famous namesake, the kid on the cereal commercial from the early 80′s, I had an ability to eat just about anything and “like it.” I’ve become a tad more discerning since my toddler phase: I prefer Pinot Noir to the customary Shiraz my parents liked, I no longer eat parmesan cheese sprinkled from a container, and can pick out which ingredients I like or don’t in a recipe by smell alone. I blame my Lebanese heritage, my large Lebanese nose (all the better for smelling with) and exposure over the past few years to some exquisite ethnic cooking styles and cuisine, as well as to some stunning, inspiring cooks who are family or friends. I’ve included a lot of their favourite recipes on this site, as well as a few of my own that have become my staples over the years. I hope you find something here that you like. Happy cooking! View all posts by gentlemangourmet

2 responses to “Cranberry Tabouli with Pumpkin Seeds

  • Stevie

    I like how you describe the recipe… “Tabouli Gods.” It makes perfect sense. You say that you’ve cut the amount of parsley? Why? That’s what makes tabouli tabouli, isn’t it? The bulghur that you’ve used looks like the whole grain, is that right? I’m never sure how to differentiate between bulghur and the various grades or what have you. Thanks for the recipe! This is something that I know that I’d love.

  • gentlemangourmet

    It is the whole grain, you’re right, though health food stores will usually carry different varieties. Couscous or quinoa also lend themselves well to this recipe. I would normally agree with you about the parsley – it does make tabouli ‘tabouli’, but I was going for something different here. Plus, I was running low on parsley.

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