You Can Take It With You: Tabbouleh À La Carte

Lunchtime: unequivocally the best part of the day. But could it be better? Yes sir, it can. You don’t have to spend gobs of money going out, but you also shouldn’t be packing the same peanut butter sandwich year in and year out; there is a middle way. The path to becoming a lunch box buddha isn’t so hard. All you need is a good balance of inspiration and  improvisation. Every week, we’ll make one or two packable recipes so that you have something new to fill your lunch box and your stomach. 

Let’s talk grains. I used to almost 100% subsist on refined grains; pasta and bread specifically. I also had horrible stomach aches all the time and assumed that was just a part of life that everyone got used to. Then I discovered vegetables and, holy guacamole, did that make all the difference. It took me a while to get going, but once I started eating real food I was unstoppable. Recently, my quest for delicious things that also make my body feel good brought me back to me beloved grains. Only now, I’m eating the real stuff: wheat berries, quinoa, barley, yum.

If you’re a celiac or paleo eater, grains probably not your friends. To that I say: you do you! We all eat what we like and what our body likes and it’s a pretty awesome thing that we have so many options. (I also say: Don’t ignore this recipe just because I’m spending the whole intro talking about grains, there are plenty of recipes for paleo and gluten-free tabbouleh out there!)

But for those of us who do eat them, let’s all take a second to learn how to do them justice. Here’s a handy infographic from Good Eggs that shows you exactly how much water goes with each grain.

And because they missed them: 1 cup of barley < > 2 cups of water  and 1 cup of bulgur wheat < > 2 1/2 cups of water.

I’ve you’ve never had or made tabbouleh before and need an idea about what kind of proportions you’re aiming for, take a look at this recipe that I got from my friend’s mom. With that in mind, let’s get started!

Tabbouleh À La Carte


My Tabbouleh

Ingredients that I used this week are starred(*).


Bulgur Wheat
Wheat Berries

Romaine Lettuce

Green Onion
Slivered Almonds


Olive Oil*
Lemon Juice*
Lime Juice*
Orange Juice

1. Prepare your grain accordingly. If it needs to be cooked, allow it to cool before adding anything.

2. Chop your greens. You can do this by hand, but you’ll be so much happier if you just use a food processor.

3. Chop (or food-processorize (or whatever you call it)) your vegetables and other add-ins into small pieces.

4. Add the dressing and spices. You most definitely need olive oil, but the rest is up to you.

+Storage and eating: Keep your tabbouleh covered in the fridge and it’ll keep for a while. Actually, I once went on a road trip and took a giant bowl of tabbouleh with me from Ohio to Connecticut to the Bronx to Brooklyn to Philadelphia and back to New York. Basically what I’m saying is: there isn’t any dairy or egg nonsense in this that will cause it to spoil easily.

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

Laura has written 308 articles for us.


  1. My favourite tabbouleh is mojito tabbouleh: quinoa, rum soaked raisins, mint, caramelised red onions and lime juice. Nom!

  2. Quinoa is totally gluten-free, so the tabbouleh you made is totally fine for celiacs and other gluten-free people!

  3. I made some sort of tabbouleh business once with quinoa and chickpeas and my friend ate like, all of it, and I don’t think he’d eaten quinoa before and it didn’t really agree with him and he got banished to the other end of my apartment.

    But it was delicious.

  4. This sounds like my lunches every week in the summer: any grain(s) from my pantry + any vegetables from the fridge + any or all of the herbs in my garden + lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil = BAM.

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