Tabbouleh with Cilantro, Lime & Grilled Shrimp
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About this time of year every year, I crave tabbouleh, a mix of bulgur, cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs, all tossed in a lemony dressing, a dish my mother made all summer long for as long as I can remember.
Here, the bones of my mother’s tabbouleh are intact, but I’ve switched up a few of the ingredients, using fresh orange juice and lime in place of the lemon, substituting cilantro for the parsley, and adding grilled shrimp to the mix to make it more of a meal.
Friends: this meal is so summery! It has been hot (finally!) here in Upstate New York, and I am finding tabbouleh alongside anything coming off the grill to be doing just the job. I hope you do, too.
- It is worth seeking out extra-coarse bulgur to make this tabbouleh. Greek and other international markets typically sell it, as does Amazon. The texture is so nice — light but chewy — and it holds up well in the fridge.
- Consider upping the acid. I’m using a 2:1 ratio of citrus-to-oil (1/2 cup fresh juice, 1/4 cup olive oil), but I’m using a mix of lime and orange juice, the latter offering a nice sweetness. If you are using a higher amount of lemon or lime, you may need to use more olive oil. Adjust to taste.
- Use the recipe as a guide: I typically use parsley, but here I’m using cilantro. Later in the summer, raw corn would be a nice addition. Add diced peppers or a hot chile to spice it up. I love adding avocado to this one as well. Use what you like and what you have on hand!
Here’s the play-by-play: Find extra-coarse bulgur if you can:
Soak 1 cup of bulgur in cold water for 1-2 hours.
Drain the bulgur.
Gather your vegetables and …
Combine the bulgur with the vegetables, herbs, olive oil, and fresh citrus.
If adding shrimp, prep them by removing their peels while keeping their tails intact.
Butterfly them, if you wish.
Grill the shrimp for about 3-5 minutes over hot coals.
Toss the shrimp with the tabbouleh.
Tabbouleh with Cilantro, Lime, & Grilled Shrimp
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
This is adapted from this more traditional Tabbouleh recipe.
Use the recipe as a guide: Typically I use lemon with tabbouleh, but I was looking for a change, and I thought orange and lime sounded nice with the addition of grilled shrimp.
Other ideas that might be nice here: a minced jalapeño or other bell pepper, avocado, raw corn … so many things.
Bulgur: If you have never tried extra-coarse bulgur, I encourage you to make the effort to get your hands on some — the texture is so nice. You can find it at Greek and other international markets. I almost always order it (Duru Extra-Coarse Bulgur) because I have a hard time finding it.
Shrimp: I’m using Wild American Shrimp (15-20 count) here, which I bought from Hooked in Latham. Hooked always sources fish from sustainable fisheries and if you are looking for more information on sustainable sources of shrimp, check out Seafood Watch.
- 1 cup bulgur, extra-coarse* if possible, see notes above
- 1 small red onion, finely diced to yield a cup or more to taste
- 1 English cucumber or 3 Persian cucumbers, finely diced
- 1 to 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 3 to 6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts
- 1 small bunch of chives, finely chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro or parsley, finely minced to yield a heaping cup
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the shrimp
- 1 orange, juiced
- 2 limes, juiced
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. 15-20 count (large-ish) shrimp, devained and butterflied
- Place bulgur in a large bowl. Cover with cold water. Let stand for one to two hours. Drain through a fine-meshed sieve. Place in a large bowl. (Note: If you are not using this extra-coarse bulgur, cook bulgur according to package instructions.)
- Heat a gas grill to high or prepare a charcoal grill for high heat (guidance here if needed: Grilling 101).
- Add the onions, cucumber, tomatoes, and salt to the bowl of bulgur. Toss. Add the scallions, chives, and cilantro or parsley, and toss again.
- Combine the orange and lime juice. You should have at least 1/2 cup of juice. If you don’t, juice another lime. Pour 1/2 cup of juice into the bowl of bulgur and vegetables. Add the olive oil. Season with pepper to taste. Toss. Let sit for 10 minutes before adjusting the flavor — the salt draws out the moisture in the vegetables, and you may not need additional juice/oil. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary with more salt, lime, olive oil, or pepper as needed. Set salad aside.
- Place shrimp in a large bowl and season all over with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil or neutral oil and toss to coat. When grill is hot, dump the shrimp on top of the grates. Let cook for about a minute. Flip. By the time you finish flipping, the shrimp likely will be nearly done. (If your grill is very hot, the shrimp should take 3-4 minutes to cook.) Transfer the shrimp to a clean bowl, piling the hot shrimp on top of one another. I like to err on the side of taking the shrimp off the grill when they might not look completely cooked and allowing the residual heat of the heap of shrimp to finish the cooking of the shrimp. Let the cooked shrimp sit in their bowl for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add shrimp and their juices to tabbouleh bowl. Toss and serve.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Grill
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: shrimp, grilled, tabbouleh, summer, salad
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
34 Comments on “Tabbouleh with Cilantro, Lime & Grilled Shrimp”
This recipe looks so amazing! Do you think it’s okay to substitute millet for bulgar?
Maybe! I haven’t cooked millet in ages, but if you like the texture/flavor of cooked millet, go for it. Anything like quinoa, couscous, etc. could work here.
We use hemp seeds….it’s a great substitute if you’re doing a keto/diabetic version.
Hope all is well!
Oh awesome! Great to hear!
What protein would you substitute if you can’t do shrimp?
PS after being a longtime follower I’m going to actually join a CSA! So excited
Yay! This makes me happy. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions … I know CSAs can be frustrating/challenging, but they’re so much fun, too.
Honestly, I think so many various proteins could work here: Grilled chicken, steak, salmon would all be good. Roasted or poached chicken would be good, too. Chickpeas if you’re looking for something vegetarian. Use what you like!
This looks delicious. My sister-in-law gave me a good recipe for tabbouleh made with hemp hearts. I am going to make your recipe with that substitution and see how it turns out (bought a big bag of hemp hearts at Costco!) The grilled shrimp sound perfect with it.
So interesting! I’ve never used hemp hearts. Can’t wait to try. Let me know how it goes!
Looks delicious! How far ahead could you make the salad?
You can make the tabbouleh a day in advance. A few thoughts: hold the tomatoes and herbs till just before serving. They hold up fine in the fridge, but if you’re entertaining, you might want everything looking a little fresher. Also: hold the shrimp till just before serving. After a day in the fridge, the shrimp imparts a “shrimpy” flavor to the tabbouleh, which is fine, but again, it’s just better when added last minute.
Thanks! It was absolutely delicious. Definitely made it into the summer repertoire!
This sounds like a perfect light lunch!
I could eat tabbouleh morning noon and night all summer long 🙂
I am on a mission to find coarse bulgar this weekend so we can have this for dinner on Sunday! 🤞🏼
Yay!! Hope you find it Michelle 🙂 🙂 🙂
What a wonderful Mediterranean dish! I tried something like this in a restaurant when I was in Lebanon. Yesterday I made this following your instructions and this tabbouleh turned out absolutely delicious! Everyone loved it and I had so many requests for the recipe. Thank you, Alexandra, for sharing this recipe with us! Pinned!
Yay!! So happy to hear this Annette! Makes me happy 🙂 🙂 🙂
Made this for dinner tonight. I try to eat low carb so I subbed riced cauliflower for the bulgar. It worked fine – probably a little more liquid than there would have been otherwise – and it was delicious. Ate it with salmon on the side and it was a perfect dinner. Will make again.
So happy to hear this Alleira! Love the idea of using cauliflower rice here. Will try!
Made this last night for dinner and everyone was swooning! Subbed in multicolored quinoa for bulgur, added corn and avocado, and made half w cilantro and half w dill and parsley (for the haters). Eating the leftovers now for lunch.
YUM! Bates that sounds amazing. Love the idea of corn and avo. Love that you are so accommodating to the cilantro haters 🙂 🙂 🙂
It was a big hit last night for dinner! I added red pepper, avocado, and a couple small hot peppers. This will be a staple for us for the rest of the summer.
So happy to hear this, Leslie! red pepper and avocado sound delicious!
This sounds fabulous! Ordered extra coarse bulgher, so will make later in the week. I always hold aside the tomatoes and cukes til serving time, but never the herbs. Will have to try it to see if it makes a difference. And grilling the shrimp will add a wonderful flavor to this recipe. Thanks, A!
Yay for ordering the extra-coarse bulgur! I absolutely love it. Hope you do, too. Love the idea of holding the tomatoes and cukes, too — smart!
As you are my cooking guru, I need your advice: what can I do to prevent soggy bulgar? Usually after its soak, I toss it really well and mop it with a dish towel, but then I’m left with a really messy dishcloth. In general, when you’re cooking grains on the stove do you add the dressing after its cooled?
Thanks so much–before you respond to this email, please go out and have fun with your kids in the lake!
PS I have been making the rhubarb custard tart all summer. Outrageously good!!!
Deborah! Hello and so great to hear from you. I think of you often because I have your gorgeous book in my heap of vegetable cookbooks I find myself turning to constantly for inspiration. AND I did make your snap pea salad with walnuts and mint … SO GOOD!
OK: I do let grains dry briefly before dressing them, but I do this in a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl. When I worked in restaurants, we would drain the drains, then spread out on a sheet pan to dry, but … what a pain. I think if you can give the grains some good time in the sieve, stirring occasionally, to allow as much water to drain as possible, your grains shouldn’t be soggy. This dressing is so heavy on the fresh citrus juice that I don’t worry too much about getting the bulgur so completely dry. ALSO: I do really, really love the extra-coarse bulgur 🙂 🙂 🙂 I think you might approve too.
Thanks for the encouragement re kids + lake. We had a great week at Lake George!
Saw this in your newsletter today and wanted to give it a try. I happened to have everything on hand, though not the lovely extra coarse bulgur you describe, I used what I had. Delicious! It was a lovely light, bright, summery meal! Perfect for a hot day. Thank you!
So happy to hear this, Lisa! I do love that bulgur, but I think this is the kind of thing that would work well with so many various grains or starches. So glad you liked it!
Made this twice…our guests loved it, too! I’m a huge fan of this dish- especially the grilled shrimp on top. Thank you! Love your blog.
So happy to hear this! Thank you 🙂 🙂 🙂
Hi Ali! I found course bulgur, not extra. Does it have to be extra course to just soak? Sorry if silly question! Thanks!
Not a silly question! I think you should still soak it if it’s coarse. Hope it turns out well!