Here’s how to make the viral Jennifer Aniston salad with quinoa or bulgur, cucumber, fresh herbs, pistachios, chickpeas and feta all tossed in lemon juice and olive oil.
Given my love for salads, I just had to try Jennifer Aniston’s salad that went viral on TikTok!
Some sources say she ate the salad every day for 10 years while filming the show Friends, but after a little research I found that this is actually a salad she shared while doing an Instagram takeover for the Living Proof brand. It’s no longer on Instagram, but you can still find it on the Way Back Machine (aka the best site for looking up old content). This post was from 2015 and in the caption Aniston said the salad, with bulgur, cucumbers, parsley, mint, red onion, chickpeas, feta cheese and pistachios was her “perfect salad.”
And according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the salad she ate daily on the set of Friends with her co-stars Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox, was a spruced up Cobb salad with turkey bacon and chickpeas. Sounds delish and probably similar to my vegan Cobb salad, but with turkey bacon.
Either way, after trying Jen’s tabbouleh-inspired salad I can totally see why she (and the whole internet) is obsessed. It’s not only delicious and packed with SO much flavor, but it also has the perfect amount of protein, smart carbs, healthy fats, and veggies – all the components of a good meal-sized salad.
Jen’s original version of this salad calls for bulgur wheat as the base, but when I went to make this salad for the first time I couldn’t find bulgur wheat anywhere, so I decided to make it with quinoa. It worked great and this salad is easily becoming a new staple in our house.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
It has all the components of a good meal-sized salad… protein, smart carbs, healthy fats, veggies and satisfaction factor!
It’s light, flavorful and jam-packed with tons of fresh herbs!
Quick and easy to whip up – you only need 10 ingredients (plus salt + pepper) and one bowl!
It holds up well in the fridge so it’s the perfect meal prep recipe. Prep this over the weekend and have lunch ready to go for the entire week!
quinoa – instead of bulgur I used white quinoa as the base. That said, you can totally use bulgur wheat or even farro as the grain in this salad. Quinoa is a good source of protein, high in fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals and naturally gluten-free. It’s also a complete protein, which means it has all nine essential amino acids including lysine… a rare find when it comes to plant-based foods.
cucumber – adds a nice crunch! I personally like using mini cucumbers because they don’t have large seeds.
fresh parsley – flat-leaf parsley and curly parsley both work well in this recipe. Make sure your bunch of parsley is washed and dried well before chopping it!
fresh mint – the addition of fresh mint adds so much flavor! Again, make sure your mint is washed and dried before chopping it.
red onion – the perfect way to add a bit of flavor and more crunch. You can use yellow onion if needed.
pistachios – roasted and salted. Adds some healthy fat and more protein to this salad.
chickpeas – I used canned chickpeas (otherwise known as garbanzo beans) for ease, but of course, you can totally cook the chickpeas from scratch if desired. Freshly cooked beans are really delicious if you have the time.
feta cheese – this adds some healthy fat and such a good flavor to the salad so I wouldn’t recommend omitting it. If needed you can use vegan feta.
dressing – instead of an elaborate dressing, we’re using lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to add a light and refreshing flavor to the salad.
How to Make
This salad is super easy to whip up. To start, cook your quinoa according to the package (you can also follow my full tutorial on how to cook quinoa) directions until it has softened. Drain out any excess water, if needed.
In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, cucumbers, parsley, mint, red onion, pistachios, chickpeas, feta, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Taste and add more salt or pepper if necessary.
Cooking Quinoa for Salad
When it comes to cooking quinoa to use for salad, it’s basically the same process as normal, but I like to make my quinoa a day in advance, let it cool and chill it in the fridge overnight and then use it for the salad the next day.
Prepping it in advance is just so the quinoa doesn’t heat up the other salad ingredients. Of course it’s fine to cook it the same day and just let it cool a bit before using. I do this all the time when I’m in a rush!
Notes and Substitutions
Quinoa – I love this salad with quinoa, but you can totally swap it with cooked bulgur wheat or farro instead.
Cheese – I love the creaminess and flavor the feta adds, but you can easily swap it with another cheese. I bet goat cheese would be delicious! You can also skip the cheese altogether or use a dairy-free feta cheese if you want the salad to be vegan.
Avocado – Want to add a little more creaminess and healthy fat to your salad? Add in some chopped avocado.
Pistachios – Feel free to swap the pistachios with another nut. I bet roasted and salted almonds would be delicious. If you need this salad to be nut-free, you can totally swap the nuts for roasted sunflower seeds.
I love meal prepping this salad for lunches throughout the week! It stores so well and even tastes better the next day as the ingredients have time to soak up more of the flavors. To store, place leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Rinse and drain quinoa. Add quinoa and water to a small pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together cooked quinoa, cucumber, parsley, mint, red onion, pistachios, chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and feta.
Serve immediately or let the salad chill in the fridge a couple hours before serving.
Store salad in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Feel free to use bulgur if desired. Add bulgur and water to a small pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 12 minutes. Drain off any access water. Fluff with a fork and let cool for 5-10 minutes.