Gluten-Free Tabouleh and Quick “Toum” (+Link Love)

schwarma tabouleh close

This week is one of our crazy weeks where M and I are on entirely opposite schedules.  He was in all day on Monday, which left me, not only, solely responsible for Punc in puppy class (she did so well!), but also with a whole day to binge on baking.  This is what my life has come to:  I’ll have a ‘normal’ couple of weeks with work, research, responsibilities, and such, and I’ll make dinner and pack lunch and look at recipes online until it all builds up and my next ‘free’ day is spent measuring, mixing, boiling, baking, marinating, and glazing to my heart’s content.  Since Monday wasn’t exactly ‘free’ (I still taught for an hour and then I succumbed to a nap), I only managed to make pumpkin scones which will be making an appearance here very, very soon.  But, when I started driving over to M’s and tried to think of dinner, I realized that a meal with the potential for a week’s worth of leftovers and versatility was what we really needed.

I thought of a shawarma plate.  If you’re anything like me, you probably hadn’t heard of shawarma before this summer with the Avengers movie.  Some strangely named food that Tony Stark mentions while they all get beaten up by aliens.

It is a sandwich.  A sort of lebanese gyro.  Before Monday, me only exposure was this delicious platter.  A savory collection of “Chicken and Meat Shawarma, Tabouleh, Hommus, Pickles, Garlic Toum” and Naan that M brought me after the show when he came to watch this summer.  At 11pm, it is absolutely delicious, even if I couldn’t eat the fragrant naan (it was heartbreaking).  Their tabouleh contains an alarmingly sparse about of couscous–M and I thought it was minced garlic and didn’t realize it contained couscous until I went back today and read the ingredients.  Fortunately it was so sparse that we were spared the ill-effects.   I wanted a shawarma platter that I could (and should) eat, complete with gluten-free naan.  And so, at 9:00pm, I started an undertaking.

It is because of that time that what I made truly isn’t shawarma.  Shawarma is the meat; and it required marinating in garlic, lemon, and other delicious things.  Instead, I opted for the tandoori spice mix we had in the cabinet.  I mixed up the dough for the naan bread using Nicole’s recipe using Kate’s flour blend instead of Better Batter, set the dough to rise and tossed the chicken in to roast in the oven.  Then I set about the other portions of the infamous platter.  Tabouleh was fairly easy, I had all the general ingredients.  I also add some finely diced cucumber because M loves it and I like the freshness.  I was stumped for the Toum until I looked it up.  When I first tasted it, I was convinced it was mostly butter, even though I’d first guessed it was some kind of aioli.  My instincts were right.  Toum is basically a Lebanese aioli, which is basically a mayonnaise.  Aioli and Toum have garlic added, but it’s all an emulsion to me! 😉

While I’d love the thought of fresh toum or aioli, it was now after 10pm and I was not about to get that fancy.  I turned to some store-bought mayo instead.  I understand folks in the no-mayo boat.  Mayo-based dips make me gag.  Toum, however, does not.  The only food I love more than garlic is probably lemons.  And this toum had both.  A little dollop on a piece of naan, piled with tabouleh and hummus and chicken is absolutely wonderful.  Make a little.  Call it aioli.  Do what you need to do, but do try this dip.  Better yet (if you have the time) make your own.  This recipe sounds spot on.

But I needed toum quick.  And it worked out well enough.

Well enough that, when all was said and done, M and I sat down after 11pm and inhaled dinner so fast that I couldn’t take a picture.  The only one I have is from my dinner for today when I packed this morning, one where we’d run out of hummus and I’d added lentils instead:

And guess what: 3 days later and hummus-less it was still delicious.  These are the lunches that make my afternoons better!


  • 3/4 c. cooked quinoa or  Kasha (which is a buckwheat cereal/porridge)
  • 2 bunches parsley, leaves removed and chopped
  • 2 tbsp (about 20) mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 of a large cucumber, finely diced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 4 green onions or 1/4 onion, finely diced, greens and white portions
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • salt & pepper

Prepare quinoa, kasha, or even brown rice by package direction (if you use quinoa: please, please rinse it thoroughly in cold water before cooking.  For even better flavor, toast the dry, uncooked quinoa in a dry skillet for a few minutes until they start to smell toasty, then transfer to a mesh sieve and rinse, rinse, rinse, and rinse again!).  Put aside to cool slightly.

Add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper to the bottom of a large bowl.  Whisk until smooth.  Finely dice your cucumber, onion, and tomatoes.  Add to bowl.  Chop the leaves of parsley well, add to bowl.  Chop mint leaves and add to bowl.  Add quinoa/kasha/rice to bowl and mix until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.  This will probably taste even better the next day.


Quick Toum

  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • Salt and Pepper

Melt butter in medium-sized dish.  Add garlic, mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper and mix until combined and smooth.