Grilled Pork Shawarma Bowl with Homemade Pickled Turnip

Jun 2, 2021 | meat, Recipes

Tender grilled pork seasoned with homemade shawarma spice served with quinoa tabouleh, homemade pickled turnip and tahini dressing. Is this the exact meal you need? I think we both know the answer to that. So, fire up the grill, sharpen those knives and let’s get cooking. This is my grilled pork shawarma bowl with homemade pickled turnip.

Where have I been?

Before we get too deep into today’s post, I want to talk a little about where I’ve been and why there haven’t been any new posts on in over a month. Near the end of April, I decided to take a week off to spend some time with my family, rest and reset. The day before I was supposed to get back to work, I hurt my shoulder, neck, and back. More accurately, I aggravated an old injury. Since then, the pain has ebbed and flowed but has mostly been bad enough that I could not cook or even type. The few times it’s felt okay, it was set off again by something simple like opening the fridge. I’m sure you can imagine my frustration. I’ve been doing everything I’m supposed to be doing and have been seeing some minor improvements. But enough is enough. I am dying to work, so that’s what I’m going to do. I am getting back to work, however, on a limited schedule. Rather than posting three days a week, I’m only posting once, which should be manageable. I want to thank you all for sticking by me and for your understanding. This is an incredibly frustrating time, and I am happy to be back to work.

What’s to come?

When I had to stop working, I had two series that I was working on. The casserole series and the bowl series. This post is the last in the bowl series and was supposed to be posted about a month ago. I am also ending the casserole series early. If I’m only posting once a week, I want to make sure that the one post really counts. So, all the upcoming posts will be one-offs, and when I’m able to get back to work full time, I’ll jump back into some different series.

Pickled Turnip

Pickled turnip is a classic topping for shawarma and falafel, but it works just as well on pork chops or a grilled chicken sandwich. And, because it is pickled, it will last in the fridge for about a month. To make it first, julienne about one cup of turnip. You can do this by hand or use a julienne peeler. Then do the same thing to one beet until you have about half a cup of julienne beet. Put the beets and turnip in a medium pot with two cups of water, half a cup of red wine vinegar, two tablespoons of sugar and one teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil and cook for five minutes. Take it off the heat and cool it to room temperature before using or storing it in the fridge.

Pickled Turnip

Pickled turnip is a classic topping for shawarma or falafel and its easy to make. Serve it with pork chops, or grilled chicken breast too.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Pickled Turnip, Pickles, Quick Pickles
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 cup julienne turnip
  • 1/2 cup julienne beets
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar


  • In a medium pot combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 5 minutes.
  • Take the pot off the heat, put a lid on it and cool it to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  • Serve now or transfer to a glass or plastic container with a tight fitting lid and sotre in the fridge for up to a month.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Tahini Dressing

Tahini is a spread made of sesame seeds. Essentially, tahini is sesame butter (like peanut butter), and you can find it in the health food section of most grocery stores. It has a great flavour that makes the perfect sauce for our pork shawarma bowl. To make it combine half a cup of tahini with half a cup of hot water, one tablespoon of minced garlic, the juice of one lemon, a quarter teaspoon of cumin, three-quarters of a teaspoon of kosher salt and half a teaspoon of honey. Mix until smooth. You can use the tahini dressing right away or store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

Tahini Dessing Recipe

A simple and delicious tahini dressing recipe that works as well on a salad as it does a pita sandwich, a shawarma or a falafel.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: dressing, Sauce
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp honey


  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk all the ingredients together until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.
  • Store the dressing in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Quinoa Tabouleh

Tabouleh is a salad from the Levantine region of the world. It is traditionally made of parsley, tomatoes, mint, onion, bulgur wheat, olive oil and lemon juice. This simpler version substitutes the bulgur wheat with quinoa to make the salad gluten-free and a little more nutritious. Quinta Quinoa gave me this bag of quinoa to try. What interested me about this specific brand is that it is produced in Canada. I didn’t even know that we produced quinoa in Canada. And I have to say, as far as quinoa goes, this was an excellent quality one. Worth checking out for sure.

How to make quinoa tabouleh

To make the quinoa tabouleh, we first have to cook the quinoa. Start by measuring out one cup of quinoa. Rince it and drain it well. Combine the one cup of rinsed quinoa with one and a quarter cup of water. Bring the quinoa and water to a boil over high heat, turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and let it simmer for fourteen minutes. Take the pot off the heat and let it sit, covered for five minutes. Put the cooked quinoa in a medium mixing bowl and combine it with one cup of chopped parsley, one tablespoon minced garlic, the zest and juice of one lemon, one tablespoon olive oil, and a quarter teaspoon of kosher salt. Mix well and serve.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

A great side dish or base of a salad bowl. Also works well as a garnish inside a pita wrap sandwish.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: parsley, Quinoa
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 1/2 cups water divided
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon juice and zest
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste


  • Put the quinoa in a medium pot and cover with 1 1/4 cup of water. Stir and slosh the quinoa around, then drain it very well.
  • Return the quinoa to the pot and add the remaining 1 1/4 cup of water. Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil on high heat. Once the pot starts to boil, turn the heat to low, cover the pot and let it sit for 14 minutes.
  • Take the pot off the heat, leaving the lid on and let it sit for 5 minutes before fluffing it with a fork.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, parsley, lemon zest and juice, olive oil and salt. Mix well.
  • Taste the tabouleh and season with additional salt as needed.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Pork Shawarma

Shawarma Spice Blend

Shawarma spice is something I’ve used before on this blog because I love it. You can buy it in most grocery stores now, but I find no comparison to homemade. The full recipe is below.

Chef's Notes Logo

Shawarma Spice Blend

A simple and delicious, Shawarma Spice Blend 
Prep Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 4 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Chicken Shawarma, Shawarma Spice
Servings: 4
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 2 tbsp Madras Curry Powder yellow curry
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Coriander
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp Ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper


  • Mix all the spices together and use to season chicken breast.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Pork Shawarma

For the pork shawarma, I used pork loin (1 kg). You could use pork shoulder or tenderloin if you’d prefer. If you do use tenderloin, cut it after it is cooked, not before. Start by slicing the pork loin into thin pieces (about 1/8 inch). It helps if the meat is partially frozen while you are cutting it. Then, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the meat with the shawarma spice and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Mix well. At this point, you can grill the pork right away or put it in the fridge to marinate for up to a day.

How to cook pork shawarma

Traditionally, shawarma is cooked on a vertical spit. I’m guessing you don’t have one of those, and neither do I, so our shawarma is going to be grilled. If you don’t have a grill, you can cook it in a hot pan with a bit of oil or in a 400°f oven for 12 to 15 minutes. To grill the pork, preheat your grill to 400°f, lay each piece of pork down in a single layer and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until it is cooked. Finish the pork by squeezing some lemon juice over it and serve.

Pork Shawarma

Serve the pork shawarma as is with rice and vegetables, wrap it up in a pita with vegetables and sauce, or serve it in a shawarma bowl.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 21 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Barbecue Pork, Pork, Pork Recipes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 kg pork loin
  • 1 batch shawarma spice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon


  • Cut the pork loin into 1/8 of an inch slices.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the shawarma spice and olive oil, then add the meat and stir to coat it.
  • You can let the meat marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours or grill it right away.
  • Heat your grill to 400°f for 10 minutes. Lay the pieces of pork loin on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side with the lid down. Once the pork is cooked, squeeze the juice out of the lemon over the pork and serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Assemble the Pork Shawarma Bowl

First things first, grab the biggest bowl you have. Put about half a cup of the quinoa tabouleh in the bottom of the bowl and top with a little bit of sliced iceberg lettuce. Besides the lettuce, add a few tomato slices. Take a few pieces of the pork shawarma, thinly slice them and put them beside the lettuce. Top meat and vegetables with a tablespoon or two of the tahini dressing and finish with the pickled turnip and a lemon wedge. It is absolutely delicious and actually pretty healthy.

The Wrap-Up

There are obviously many components to this shawarma bowl, but it is well worth the effort. If you do want to cut down on prep, you can substitute the picked turnip for some sliced dill pickle if you’d prefer. It won’t have the same flavour, but it will be delicious nonetheless. Thanks for reading, and man, is it good to be back. See you next Wednesday.

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