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Friday, March 9, 2018

Trader Joe's Cauliflower Tabbouleh

Despite my familiarity and affinity for most Middle Eastern cuisines, I've only had tabbouleh once before sampling this cauliflowerized version from Trader Joe's. I remember liking it all right but not becoming obsessed with it like I did chicken shawarma. Nevertheless, the "Levantine vegetarian salad" is very popular among various Middle Eastern cuisines, and is nearly as ubiquitous as shawarma, pita, and hummus in ethnic restaurants here in the US.

I like traditional tabbouleh just a little more than this offering from Trader Joe's, but not for the reasons you might assume. The primary difference between this tabbouleh and one you might find at your local Lebanese restaurant is that they've substituted bulgur wheat with cauliflower, rendering a product that is not only vegan, but also gluten-free. As a result, the taste is slightly less nutty—less bready, if you will. But both Sonia and I agree that the cauliflower affects the texture of the tabbouleh significantly more than the flavor. The whole dish is soft and wet to begin with, and if anything, the cauliflower makes it softer—but it also lends a sogginess to it that might be off-putting to some.

The flavor is nice and fresh, citrusy, and subtly oniony. This dish reminds me very much of pico de gallo, but with cold riced cauliflower mixed in. And like pico de gallo, this tabbouleh can be used with Mexican dishes as well as Mediterranean ones, or it could simply be served with tortilla chips as an appetizer. Tell your guests it's "Mexican-Middle Eastern Fusion," even if it's just because you didn't have pita bread on hand.

That brings me to my next point: like pico de gallo, this product is full of raw tomatoes. I don't remember the tabbouleh I tried long ago containing so many pieces of tomato, but I guess it must have, since they're one of the main ingredients in almost any tabbouleh recipe. I'm not a huge fan of raw tomato, and I'm sure I'd have appreciated the flavor a little more if there weren't so many in there. I did my best to eat around them and pick them out and give them to Sonia the tomatophile, who was happy to gobble them up by themselves or mixed in with the rest of the tabbouleh.

This product works as a side for Mediterranean foods, as a condiment for chicken dishes that might need spruced up, or as a dip for chips, crisps, or pita bread. I'm sure it would do well as a substitute for tapenade—you could surely use it to top off bruschetta. I'd throw this on top of burritos or nachos. Eat it with fish. I could go on...

Accessible to vegans, vegetarians, and the gluten intolerant, TJ's has provided a very versatile dish here. $3.69 for the tub. And yet another Trader Joe's cauliflower product gets the thumbs up from the WG@TJ's team. Three and a half stars from me. Four from Sonia.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

1 comment:

  1. I am really happy with this and the Zhoug as new? products for salads etc. I have a feeling they won't be around for long either like most TJ stuff. I am enjoying them while I can!


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