Blood Orange and Olive Tabbouleh


Out of all the citrus varieties found this season, blood oranges are unique. Their skin is just as gorgeous as the deep crimson hues and blood-colored flesh found on their insides. They almost have a hint of raspberry mixed with citrus notes. I find them to be less sweet than other oranges. They are just so darn elegant.

Our local market sells fresh blood orange juice each season.  I can’t resist purchasing this treat every week.  In addition to just staring at their beautiful color, I’ve enjoyed eating them as a snack.

One late afternoon, I was rummaging around in my fridge looking for something to eat. As my hunger pangs grew louder, I quickly decided to make a little fruit plate. I added some green olives and cheese. The briny flavors from the green olives balanced out the sweet mellow citrus . A little cheese and crackers for substance and I was hooked! Plus the colors together were so pretty.


I couldn’t get the flavor combination out of my head. Snacking  on a cheese platter every now and again was great but I wanted to compose a healthier dish. So what better way to incorporate all of these ingredients than in a salad?

One of my favorite cookbooks is Ripe from Nigel Slater. He has a few different versions of tabbouleh where he uses seasonal fruit such as plums and peaches. I’ve only eaten traditional tabbouleh but last summer when my dear friend Heather was visiting from out of town, we prepared a light summer meal together. Peach tabbouleh was on our menu. The bulgur was easy and quick to prepare. It was surprisingly delicious.

If blood oranges are hard to come by where you live, don’t fret, choose your favorite orange. It will taste just as nice in this salad.

This is my winter version inspired from that summer night. In addition to tabbouleh, we feasted on beautiful greens. It may not have been a typical warm summer evening. Most evenings in Berkeley are foggy and cool, however it was just as special.  The food was prepared with love and I had quality time with my dear friend.

Summer evenings are not too far away but in the meantime, pick up some blood oranges. Enjoy ❤️


Blood Orange and Olive Tabbouleh 

Adapted from Nigel Slater, Ripe

Serves 4

Free from: tree nuts, peanut, sesame, egg, soy. Dairy free option( see below).

To make the bulgur( makes about 3 cups):

  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a heavy 2 qt saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the bulgur and salt, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand until the bulgur is tender and water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.  If the bulgur is tender and there is still a little water remaining in pan, drain the bulgur in a fine mesh sieve. Fluff with a spatula. Lay out on a parchment lined baking sheet to cool. Set aside.

To make the salad:

  • 3 cups cooked bulgur
  • 4 small blood oranges, supremed slices *See Note
  • 12 green olives, pitted & sliced, about 2 1/2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup cilantro & parsley combination, chopped
  • 1 slim green onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • goat cheese, crumbled ( optional to keep dairy free)

To make the dressing: 

  • juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon blood orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon brine from green olives

Prepare the bulgur. Set aside at room temperature for at least an hour or in the refrigerator for up to two hours.  The bulgur will swell as it continues to absorb any remaining liquid.

Supreme the blood oranges, holding above a small bowl to catch their juice. Reserve 1 teaspoon of the juice.  Drink or use the remainder later( don’t discard the juice, it is delicious).

Add the blood orange slices to a medium size mixing bowl. Add the olives, cilantro/parsley combination,  green onion and mint.  Add pumpkin seeds.

Add the bulgur. Season with salt and pepper. Pour enough dressing to cover lightly. Toss gently, adding more dressing as needed. Do not over dress.

Fluff bulgur with a fork. Transfer to a salad bowl or platter.  Check seasoning. Add more salt, pepper and/or squeeze of lemon if needed. Arrange orange slices and goat cheese on top. Serve immediately.

*Note: If you cannot find blood oranges, it is perfectly fine to use your favorite variety of orange.

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