Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tabouli Recipe

About a hundred years ago when I was in college, I worked at a place called ArtPark in Western New York.  ArtPark is a state park dedicated to the visual and performing arts.  It was there that I was able to see operas, ballets, musicals and artists such as Alberta Hunter, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Corea and Victor Borge along with a cast of visual artists that took residence in the park each summer.  It opened up my eyes to a big creative world.  

My wonderful boss and early style guru, Joan McDonough, started a food service project at the park that provided fresh, healthy food for two different food cafes in the park, as well as prepared picnic baskets for theater goers and catered events within the park.  Seeing some kind of potential in me that I didn't know I had myself, she put me in charge of the newly built kitchen.  

We made vegetarian sandwiches on pita bread which most people had never seen before (avocado, cream cheese, sliced radishes, scallions and alfalfa sprouts was one of my favorites) and salads that were very innovative for the time and place.  Never having seen many of these foods such as humus and tabouli, before, I wasn't sure how they were "supposed to be" so I used interpreted recipes and created what food that I thought tasted good.

My tabouli variation became a cult phenomenon.  People would call from all over Western New York and Southern Ontario saying they were visiting the park that day and wanted to make sure that we would had tabouli.  Our food was reviewed in the Toronto newspaper and my tabouli quickly became known as "Steve's Tabouli."

Today I'd like to share my tabouli recipe.  Many of the ingredients are optional so if you don't like one of the ingredients, just leave it out.  The thing that is critical is bulghur wheat.  

Bulghur wheat is whole wheat that's been cleaned, parboiled, dried and then ground and sifted so it's all uniform in size.  If you can't find it at the grocery store, you should be able to find it at smaller natural food stores.

I always just wing the recipe but I made it yesterday and wrote everything down so I could share it.  This would make enough as a side dish for about 8 people.  Here's how it goes:

2 cups bulghur wheat.
3 cups water
2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic
1/4 olive oil

Add water and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  While the water is boiling, crush the garlic into a small bowl and cover with olive oil.  This allows the garlic to infuse into the oil.  Once water is boiling, turn off heat, add bulghur, stir and cover for about 20 minutes until all water is absorbed.   Stir in the garlic and olive oil and allow the bulghur to cool.

Once the bulghur is cool, add the following:

2 medium carrots, shredded
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
5-6 scallions, chopped
1 packed cup of chopped parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
Stir in juice of 1 large lemon, about 1/4 cup

Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours.  

Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

The tabouli keeps for days so it's great to make a big batch on the weekend and enjoy it on summer evenings when you don't want to cook.

I hope you enjoy my own version of this classic vegetarian dish.


  1. I didn't know there was college a hundred years ago. Your dish looks yummy.

  2. JEEZ STEVE! I've never made tabouli...never even imagined reading a recipe 'cause I thought the bulgar part would be complicated. But it sounds easy! Maybe tomorrow night. Nice to see you back; it feels like ages since you last blogged. I've even SEEN you since you last blogged.

  3. Looks delicious! I love tabbouleh and have been making it for years! I'll give yours a try this week!

    Missed your wallpaper post! Don't know how that happened, but I love it! I've always loved that hunt scene wallpaper!

    Have a lovely day and keep cool!


  4. Deb,
    Harvard started in 1636 but I wasn't accepted.
    No, it's SO easy!
    Let me know what you think! S.

  5. Sounds like a delicious summer supper. I have everything except the bulgar wheat. I may be headed to Whole Foods tomorrow.
    (I had a wonderful time visiting Boston last week. Much to my husband's surprise, I actually found my way back to my hotel each evening.)

  6. I love tabouli if done right.....but you never know if it's going to be great or not when you get it out. Most places it's pretty ordinary. I can't wait to try your version. So you are a chef too! A man of many talents.

  7. hello VEGAN tabouli!

    sounds pretty good, i'll report back soon.

    i knew you were old, but 120? wow.

  8. YUM! Hey was artpark in or near Chattaqua?? Where'dja go to school? Buffalo?

  9. Janet,
    Vegan just for you! Actually I'm 121 this year.

    ArtPark is in Lewiston, just north of Niagara Falls. I went to Niagara University.

  10. Sounds delicious. I'm going to make tomorrow - just in time for the start of my diet!

  11. wow, Joan was sure forward thinking back in the stone ages... here I refer to your "photo" in your profile and you look to be of stone age:):) I love that you were famous!! I will definitely make this- it's beautiful to look at too! Can't believe you got to see Ella F.... so envious! Thanks for sharing!


  12. Man, this looks good! Being mostly vegetarian and loving bulgur, this recipe definitely appeals to me. I'll be making some very soon. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Looks delish.
    Love tabouleh and love vegetables.

  14. One can never have too many tabouli recipes, and I just bought a big bag of bulgur wheat. This looks destined to grace my table this week. Thank you, Steve.

  15. I make tabouleh all the time, but never this interesting! I make it more conventional w/ tons of extra garlic, tomato, chick peas, parsley, mint, lemon and olive oil. I will have to try your variation! YUM!

  16. Ah...if I had only seen this before I whipped up taboulli yesterday! Mine won't be nearly as good; but, I will definitely give yours a try next time.

  17. Love tabouli - we haven't had it in a while so thanks for reminding me what a great dish it is.

    Also - thanks for the comment about Don't Give Up the Ship. In a week or so I'll be posting about a Greek Revival I saw on the Cape. It had fun greek key detailing over the window.

  18. Can't wait to try this. If it tastes near as good as it looks, should be wonderful!
    p.s. Thanks again for your lovely comments last week.

  19. OMG were we in college together?

    I love this recipe and will be trying it this week.

    Our temps will be exceeding 100 and a big cool bowlful should do it.

    we still have our teeth don't we?

    xo Jane

  20. You look ageless...must be all that healthy food you are cooking. Tabouli has always been a hot weather favorite for me though I like to make it with parsley at center stage.

  21. J.W.,
    Most do have a lot more parsley. I'm not keen on the parsley; mine's more of a wheat and vegetable salad. But no reason could you couldn't go crazy with the parsley. It would freshen your breath while you eat the garlic.

  22. You can show me every recipe you have...I love looking at all the pretty pictures but there is a very slim chance I will start cooking my later years.

  23. Gotta up the garlic to keep the vampires at bay!

    I do a lot of Middle Eastern recipies but can't bring myself to use my tagine in this hot weather...the tabouli salad is a winner, however.

  24. Do you perhaps remember Linda Brooks Panone and Joe Panone from Artpark? Linda has strawberry blonde hair and freckles. They did projects in the park with lights and large white ballons, and were quite health conscious so I am sure they ate your tabouli. Looks delish. Lana

  25. Steve did you know that quinoa can be substituted for the bulgar wheat?

  26. Dianne,
    You're right! I never thought of that. That would be perfect. Thank you for that suggestion!

  27. I'm going to make it on Friday for the beach on Sunday.......perfect...
    Hope that you are having a wonderful summer...k

  28. Okay, you are killing me with the talents. Enough already, lol. This looks fantastic. I have never attempted this and I think now's the time. Thanks for sharing it!

  29. This looks so good...I will be making it at lunchtime today!

  30. I make tabouleh all the time, but have never added carrots or garlic. I will have to add both next time I make it. I always buy Goya Bulgar it seems to keep it's bit better than most. Thanks for the recipe!