Confetti Tabouleh

You know when a recipe calls for a couple of sprigs of parsley or mint, but you have to buy the entire bunch? What do you do with the rest? Well, there are actually a ton of things you can do with a collection of compatible herbs, like basil, parsley, cilantro and mint. (Be sure to check out my previous recipes for Basil Oil and Chimichurri.)

A big batch of tabouleh is another great way to use up leftover herbs and anything else you might have lingering in your fridge. It’s yummy, healthy, and versatile — it can be a meal, a salad, or an accent to other dishes. It’s really quite brilliant!

Bulghur is a pleasant, mild-flavored whole wheat grain that makes the perfect neutral base, allowing the other ingredients to shine. I make tabouleh frequently, but I never make it the same way twice. I literally throw in whatever I find that needs to be used up. Today, I discovered a half a bunch of cilantro, a handful of fresh Italian parsley, and some mint from the garden that was starting to brown and needed to be used. The perfect beginning for a flavor-forward tabouleh! I threw in some of the red and orange peppers I was roasting, and I grabbed a couple of cloves of the roasted garlic I had made last week, mashed them up with some of their garlicky oil and threw it in, too. Voila…tabouleh!

You may have some cucumbers and cherry tomatoes in the garden or some leftover roasted vegetables from last night’s dinner. What about those sun-blushed tomatoes and roasted artichoke hearts you got at the deli that have been sitting there waiting to be used? Chop them up and throw them in with their juices. The more ingredients, the more flavorful and colorful it will be.

I’ll provide you with a basic recipe to get you started, but be adventurous and crafty. It’s pretty hard to mess up tabouleh.

Confetti Tabouleh

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Tabouleh is a healthy, flavor-forward and versatile dish that is easily personalized to your own tastes.


  • 1 ½ cups fine cracked bulghur wheat
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered, or 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
  • Fresh mint, cilantro and flat parsley, stems removed and chopped (the more herbs you add, the more flavorful it will be)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 3 Tbl Lemon juice
  • 1 Tbl red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbl EVOO
  • Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, red chile flakes to taste

Optional additions: chopped sun-dried or cherry tomatoes; roasted red, orange or yellow bell peppers; pepperoncini, roasted vegetables, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts or anything else you like.


Place the cracked wheat in a large heat-proof bowl and pour the boiling water over (the water should slightly cover the bulghur). Let sit for 30 minutes or more, until most or all of the water has been absorbed (if any water remains, simply drain it off). Add the olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and garlic to the bulghur. Season with a good bit of salt and pepper. Stir well to blend the flavors.

Fold in the sliced scallions and the chopped cucumbers and tomatoes. Start adding the fresh herbs, being careful not to bruise the leaves. I use kitchen shears to cut the herbs directly into the bowl. The herbs should make up a good portion of the dish, so be generous! Now, add anything else you like, and blend it all together. The mixture should not be too dry, nor should it be soupy. If it needs more liquid, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container, and place it in the fridge to sit for a couple of hours. Once the flavors have had a chance to meld, take it out, give it a stir and taste it. Make adjustments according to your preferences. If you like it tangier, add a little more lemon juice. Spicier? Add more chile flakes. This is your dish, so make it whatever you want. Most importantly, have FUN!!

To enjoy as a main dish, top the tabouleh with sliced grilled chicken breast or any kebab (lamb, pork, chicken or vegetable). To make it a salad, place a large spoonful of tabouleh on a bed of bibb lettuce, spring greens or arugula drizzled with EVOO and lemon juice. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes.

Note: Tabouleh gets better and better as the flavors meld together, making it the perfect leftover dish. This recipe makes a large portion so that you will have extras to enjoy the next day or the following (store in an air-tight container in the fridge). If you want just enough for two, cut the ingredients in half.


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