Spicy Southwestern Tabbouleh

By Christine Vartanian Datian

Inspired by friends who adore Mexican flavors, Christine Vartanian Datian decided to reinvent traditional Middle Eastern tabbouleh with Southwestern spices. After substituting cilantro for parsley and adding peppers, cumin, and chili powder, she knew she had a unique dish that was quick and easy to throw together. “If you’re working, you can do a lot of prep before, when you do have time,” she says. Vartanian Datian recommends buying pre-chopped vegetables from the grocery store for a fast weeknight meal. If necessary, you can even soak the bulgur overnight.

From Cooking Light Magazine JULY 2010

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup)


3/4 cup uncooked bulgur

1 1/4 cups boiling water

1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup vertically sliced red onion

3/4 cup diced seeded tomato

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1/2 cup diced yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped peeled avocado

1/4 cup diced seeded peeled English cucumber

1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled queso fresco (or feta cheese)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons diced seeded jalapeño pepper

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 garlic clove, minced

Dash of hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)



1.      Combine bulgur, 1 1/4 cups boiling water, and 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium bowl; cover and let stand 20 minutes.

2.      Drain bulgur through a fine sieve; place drained bulgur in a large mixing bowl.

3.      Add cilantro and all remaining ingredients, toss well and check seasonings.

4.      Add more olive oil, lemon or lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

5.      Serve with crackers, sliced bread, pita chips, and Armenian peda or cracker bread.

(Christine Vartanian Datian was born in Fresno, CA and is a resident of Las Vegas, NV. She is the daughter of Mrs. Alice (Sarkisian) Vartanian (formerly of Lowell, MA) and the late Arthur Vartanian of Fresno. She is a graduate of California State University Fresno (CSUF) and holds a Master of Arts (MA) Degree in News-Editorial Journalism.  She has worked in San Francisco, Reno and Las Vegas in advertising and marketing companies and at Harrah’s Corporate Advertising Department in Reno.  She served in technical support positions at the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP) and the Nevada Test Site in Las Vegas for the Department of Energy (DOE).  Christine has had recipes published in Sunset and Cooking Light Magazines; find her recipes at: http://search.myrecipes.com/search.html?Ntt=datian or at http://www.thearmeniankitchen.com.)