Bulgur Salad with Pistachios and Thai Basil

Generally speaking, I have been a bit of a stickler for regional flavors in regional dishes. For instance, why would you ever use soy sauce in a Ukrainian dish? And you’d never cook guinea pig in France! How about the fact that olives don’t belong on nachos… or do they?

The idea makes sense. Stick to the sauces, herbs, spices, and ingredients that are common and native to an area when cooking foods from, and inspired by, their cuisine. Of course, then there is fusion. At least when they call it fusion you know there will be a mashing of ingredients and ideas.

But let’s go back to the statement “common and native to an area.” Common and native. We have no problem cooking Italian food with tomatoes or Indian food with chilies. Why would we? How could we not?! But the fact is, neither of those ingredients are native to those regions. Even us rule sticklers can’t ignore that.

So why then, are those ingredient migrations acceptable, dating back to the beginning of the Colombian Exchange, while ‘migrating’ an ingredient modernly, say olives onto nachos, or this use here of thai basil in an otherwise traditional Middle Eastern dish seems, or at least feels wrong? Have we so quickly over looked the fact that pretty much every tabbouleh recipe includes those Colombian Exchange tomatoes?

I guess my point, after this 230 word rant, is that I was going to apologize for mixing and matching cultural flavors, but perhaps I should not be. Perhaps, even, there will be seen olives on our family’s next nacho plate. Who am I kidding?! NO WAY!

Bulgur Salad with Pistachios and Thai Basil Overhead

Traditional Tabbouleh relies heavily on green herbs, parsley and mint in particular, which can sometimes attest to more than half of the salad. Here I have replaced these bold flavors with another bold herb, Thai Basil. I have also included pistachios, (of great pride in the Middle East,) to bring a fantastic nutty richness and crunch.

Bulgur Salad with Pistachios and Thai Basil

Bulgur Salad with Pistachios and Thai Basil

Thai Basil and Pistachios change up classic tabbouleh for a new fresh take.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Resting Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Lunch, Salad, Side Dish, Snack, Supper/Dinner
Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern


  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 cup boiled water
  • 2 T vegetable broth powder
  • 2 roma or vine tomatoes; diced
  • half bunch green onions; chopped
  • 6 thai basil leaves; chopped
  • t black pepper
  • ½ cup crushed pistachios


  • Add the vegetable broth powder to the boiled water and stir well until dissolved.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the broth, bulgur, tomatoes, green onions, thai basil, and black pepper. Allow to sit for 1 hour to soften.
  • Add the pistachios as a topping or mix well to incorporate.

One comment on “Bulgur Salad – Quick Tabbouleh with Pistachios and Thai Basil”

Lynette Merrill says:

Delicious! The Thai basil adds a depth of flavor character that the customary parsley does not. I added a sprinkle of fresh chive blossoms for the already colorful dish presented. This dish is a keeper! Thank you, Vanessa.

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