a perfect bowl of tabbouleh

a perfect bowl of tabbouleh

The name of this recipe is a little unfair, because there’s nothing more perfect than the tabbouleh my grandmother, mom, and great aunt make without recipes, scales, or cups. But a great recipe is different from the thing itself, and a recipe only exists to get you to delicious food. So I finally got around to recording our family recipe in grams, instead of bunches, cups, and handfuls. But at the end of the day, you don’t really need to use these precise measurements, because tabbouleh is very straightforward if you know what you’re doing.

The key to good tabbouleh is to remember that the parsley, mint, and onion are not mere garnishes, but a substantial part of the salad, so be sure to pay attention to your ratios, and adjust them to your liking. The most important ratio to pay attention to is bulgur:parsley. There’s some controversy among recipe writers about how much bulgur to add to tabbouleh, and I fall somewhere in the middle, or maybe a little more toward the bulgur-heavy side of the spectrum. One thing we can all agree on is that there shouldn’t be too much bulgur (it’s just that the definition of “too much” varies from person to person, as well as season to season).

Perhaps the reason I like to include a little more bulgur than some is that my family taught me to treat the bulgur with a little special care. So instead of boiling or steeping it in water, we like to soak it in lemon and tomato juice. This makes every bite incredibly flavorful (and it conveniently saves an extra step). But this method only works if you use fine bulgur, so don’t miss the notes at the bottom of the recipe if you want to substitute a coarser bulgur.


a perfect bowl of tabbouleh

serves 6
total time: 30 minutes
download a PDF to print

  • 150g (3/4 cup) fine burghul/bulgur #1 *

  • 425g (2 cups) minced tomatoes, with their juices (from about 3 medium tomatoes)

  • 85g (between 1/3 - 1/2 cup) lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)

  • Salt to taste

  • 100g (2 cups) minced flat-leaf parsley leaves (from about 2 big bunches)**

  • 45g (3/4 cup) minced green onions (from less than 1 bunch)

  • 35g (1 cup) minced mint leaves (from about 1 big bunch, or 2 smaller ones)

  • 45g (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. If you're using fine burghul/bulgur #1, you should not cook your burghul in hot water; instead, soak the burghul in a mixing bowl with the minced tomatoes, their juices, 75 grams of the lemon juice, and a pinch of salt (to taste). Let the mixture soak while you prep the rest of the ingredients (about 20 minutes). The bulgur will continue to hydrate once you’ve mixed the salad together.

  2. Add the parsley, green onions, mint, and remaining lemon juice to the bulgur and tomato mixture, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with pepper. Mix well, and let it sit for about 10 minutes before salting and serving. You can enjoy it for about 48 hours, but if you’re making it for guests, you should serve it within about 30 minutes of mixing. Season with salt (to taste) immediately before serving.

* You can find burghul #1/fine bulgur at most Middle Eastern markets, and some international sections of grocery stores. If you can't find a source near you, you can substitute couscous, cracked wheat, or coarse bulgur. These will need to be cooked in boiling water until al dente, rinsed, strained well, and then soaked with the tomatoes and lemon juice for about ten minutes. Burghul #1 is pre-cooked and very fine, so it only needs to be soaked, rather than cooked.
** Make sure your herbs are dried very well with a towel or spin-dryer before mincing. Use the sharpest knife you have, so that you can cut through the herbs cleanly, instead of crushing them. For precision, all of the ingredients in this recipe are measured after mincing, so the 100g parsley is just the leaves themselves, not the weight of the entire bunch (make sure you buy enough).


Thanksgiving fatteh

Thanksgiving fatteh

This fatteh has got Thanksgiving spirit out the wazoo, with heaps of caramelized brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes, and even a little bit of celery. It’s also topped with more classic fatteh ingredients, like chickpeas, yogurt tahini sauce, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and parsley.

It’s one of my favorites, because it can go right from polished vegetarian centerpiece to leftover magnet, which is just the kind of kitchen miracle everyone could use this time of year, so I hope you get a chance to make it in one form or another. Whether or not you include it in your official Thanksgiving dinner, definitely make sure you buy some pita bread, because fatteh is all about leftovers. Its name refers to broken up pieces of leftover bread, which get toasted, covered in sauce and/or stock, and topped with a variety of delicious ingredients (you can adapt it to include whatever you’ve got around).

Thanksgiving fatteh
Thanksgiving fatteh
Thanksgiving fatteh
Thanksgiving fatteh

If you’re interested in coming up with your own leftover adaptation, check out these fabulous recipes to learn more about what makes fatteh fatteh. There are a ton of different kinds and variations (please do try them all!), and it’s always fun to get creative, but they all have a few important things in common, e.g., crunchy pita, some sort of sauce (usually tahini-yogurt), a few ingredients that tend to show up, etc.:

Tony Tahhan’s spiced beef and chickpea fatteh
Yumna Jawad’s Lebanese chicken fatteh
Eyad Houssami’s fatteh with cumin chickpeas and tahini yogurt
Amira’s Pantry’s fattet al-makdous (stuffed eggplant fatteh)

Thanksgiving fatteh
Thanksgiving fatteh

thanksgiving fatteh

yield: 4 to 6 servings
active time: 20 minutes
total time: 45 minutes
(also known as fatta or fateh)
download a PDF to print

tahini yogurt sauce

  • 1 small clove garlic

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt *

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water

  1. Place the garlic in a blender or food processor and finely mince it (or mince and whisk by hand).

  2. Add the coriander, cumin, tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the water, and blend until emulsified. Gradually add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of water, and blend until it thins out into a pourable consistency. It may thicken slightly as it sits, so feel free to thin it further before serving.

* If you want to make this recipe vegan, simply make a tahini sauce instead, but make sure you thin it out enough, because this dish needs a very light sauce.

the fatteh

  • 3 medium pitas (220 grams)

  • Olive oil

  • Salt, to taste

  • 1 medium sweet potato, 1/2-inch diced (180 grams)

  • About 18 small brussels sprouts, halved (180 grams)

  • 1 small stalk celery, sliced 1/4 inch (50 grams)

  • 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas (125 grams)

  • tahini yogurt sauce (above)

  • 2 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts

  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (plus more on the side, optionally)

  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (plus more on the side)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F convection.*

  2. Cut the pita into large bite-sized triangles, and coat evenly in about 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread evenly on a sheet pan, salt to taste, and bake until golden brown (about 10 to 14 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pita). Spread the baked pita chips out onto a serving platter.

  3. Preheat the oven’s broiler (or use the hottest possible setting).

  4. Coat the sweet potato, brussels sprouts, and celery in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread evenly on a sheet pan (sprouts should be cut-side-up), salt to taste, and bake for about 12 minutes.** The sweet potatoes must be soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. The celery should retain some bite, and won’t take on much color. The brussels sprouts should retain some bite and should be charred on the outside.

  5. Top the pita chips with a couple spoonfuls of the tahini yogurt sauce. Top with the sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, celery, and chickpeas, and add a couple more spoonfuls of the sauce. Garnish with the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and parsley, and serve with extra pomegranate seeds, parsley, and sauce on the side.

* If you don’t have convection, no worries—it just might take a little longer for them to toast, and you might need to rotate the pan once halfway through to make sure they’re browning evenly.
** Broilers vary a ton, so keep a close eye on it to make sure nothing’s burning. If it looks like they’re caramelizing before they have a chance to cook through, reduce the temperature and/or move them away from the heat source.

Thanksgiving fatteh