Tabouleh with Basil Pesto
Prep time
Total time
Summer lunches don't get better than this; quick and easy, fresh and flavoursome with oodles of basil. Add a ball of the freshest Mozzarella you can find. Serves 4 light lunches or 6 smaller starters
Recipe type: Salad, Light Lunch
Cuisine: Middle Eastern - Mediterranean
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 large balls of buffalo mozzarella
  • 250g fine bulgar wheat
  • 6-10 red cherry tomatoes
  • 6-10 yellow cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • cucumber, around 12cm, sliced lengthways, then diced
  • fresh mint, large handful, chopped finely
  • fresh parsley, large handful, chopped finely
  • a lemon, juice and zest
  • 3 tbsps best quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Pesto:
  • fresh basil, very large handful, chopped then crushed in a pestle & mortar
  • 3 tbsps best quality extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt, large crystals
  1. Start by soaking the bulgar wheat: place grains in a wide saucepan and pour in boiling water to cover to around 1.5cm depth. Stir up with a fork, then cover with a lid and a tea-towel to allow the wheat to swell and become soft to bite (but not a mush) for around 20 minutes. Fork up grains gently to loosen them.
  2. Prep vegetables: wash tomatoes and dice finely, and do the same with the cucumber. Chop mint and parsley finely and stir in to the salad vegetables.
  3. Salad dressing & combining: Whisk 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil with the juice and zest of a lemon. Fork the dressing lightly into the bulgar wheat, then fork in the salad vegetables, mint and parsley lightly til combined. Leave to chill in the fridge for an hour but preferably three. If you are serving the tabouleh as a starter, you can use dariole moulds or small cake tins to form it into individual portions. Press tabouleh in the moulds, cover with foil and chill.
  4. Pesto: rip the basil leaves and place in a large mortar. Add around half a teaspoon of sea salt, large crystals, and then crush up the leaves roughly with a pestle. Add the olive oil a little at a time, still crushing and stirring. The pesto needs to be quite liquid so you can pour over the mozzarella. There is no need to make a very fine pesto and note that this version is basil, salt and oil only; no Parmesan or pine nuts.
  5. To serve: spoon tabouleh onto plates, or serve individual portions from dariole moulds by placing a plate over the top and tipping right way up. It should retain its form if you chilled the tabouleh long enough. Rip up the balls of drained buffalo mozzarella, placing portions next to the tabouleh. Just before serving, pour a little pesto over the mozzarella, toss over some more lemon zest and chopped mint. Serve with extra cherry tomatoes. Ideal as light summer luncheon or as a starter.
Recipe by The Red Bistro at