quinoa variation on tabouli
The Way I Was

Rhapsodic Variations on a Theme of Tabouli

quinoa variation on tabouli
Traditional Lebanese Tabouli made with quinoa

Tabouli. Just saying it makes me want to sing–Ta-BOOL-ool-ool-li.

This summer, I’ve been going rhapsodic on a theme of Tabouli. This dish feeds my creative need to compose–to augment, ornament, substitute and transpose.

Beat-the-heat bonus: you can make it in the morning while the kitchen is cool and serve it later (that evening or the next day) right from the refrigerator.

Bonus-Bonus: you can use up whatever you have on hand.

Hat-trick Bonus: it’s simple to make.

To create your own Rhapsodic Variation on a Theme of Tabouli you’ll need–

1 cup each of

  • grain: choose from bulgar wheat; couscous (or any itty-bitty pasta): quinoa; or rice (white or brown)
  • boiling water
  • chopped herb(s): parsley, cilantro, basil, whatever you like (if you have less than a cup, that’s okay);

about 1/4 cup each of

  • olive oil
  • freshly-squeezed citrus juice: lime, lemon, grapefruit, blood orange (it must be fresh!)
  • chopped tomato (fresh is best, but you can used canned)

a small clove of garlic, minced + salt & pepper to taste,

and optionally, up to 1 cup of whimsical add-ins

  • chopped, sliced, or grated raw vegetables, any assortment: onions, sweet peppers, summer squash, radishes, scallions, celery, carrots, cucumbers
  • cooked beans: garbanzo, pinto, black, edamame
  • chopped or grated fresh cheese (added at the very last minute): fresh mozzarella, queso fresco, feta, paneer
  • chopped olives or hot peppers

Now compose it:

  1. Cook the grain according to direction.
  2. Stir in the chopped herbs, add most of the olive oil and citrus juice, stir and taste.
  3. Add more of whatever your tongue says it needs — citrussy zing? salt? pepper?
  4. Throw in your whimsy!!

Yum! This makes about 5 cups of salad (6-10 servings, depending on appetites and whether you serve it as a main course or a side).

You could eat it right away, but let it rest for a while in the refrigerator and it will taste even cooler.

Go ahead and feel all virtuous for being innovative: you made use of what had been hanging out in your fridge, which could have been (gasp!) wasted. 

Here are some Summer Salad ideas for you to riff on:

  • Traditional Lebanese: bulgar wheat, parsley, lemon and cucumber.
  • Mediterranean: couscous, Italian parsley with a touch of thyme, orange, onions, peppers, summer squash and garbanzo beans
  • Tex Mex:  bulgar wheat, cilantro, lime, onions, sweet and hot peppers and queso fresco
  • Asian: jasmine rice, cilantro and thai basil, lime mixed with a sprinkle of soy sauce, cucumbers and radishes
  • Indian: brown basmati, cilantro and chopped spinach,lemon mixed with your favorite curry powder, onions, carrots and paneer
  • Latin American: quinoa, parsley, lime, mixed bell peppers and chopped, fresh or canned pineapple (you might want to omit the garlic and add some chopped scallions)
  • Italian: cooked acini de pepe pasta, basil and a dash of rosemary, lemon, roasted red pepper, fresh mozzarella and toasted pine nuts

Sing this little ditty with me, my friends: The Possibilities are Endless!

And for inspiration, play this while you compose your masterpiece:

Which variation could you love? 

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23 thoughts on “Rhapsodic Variations on a Theme of Tabouli”

  1. I really do enjoy tabouli, but I’ve never attempted to make it at home. Your recipe makes it sounds so simple, and I love all your ideas for different add-ins. Today our heat index is in the mid 90’s and we’ve got more of the same this week. I’m bookmarking this recipe because it is the perfect no-bake option for these hot days! Thank you for sharing Tracy 🙂

    1. You’re welcome — and it’s getting warm here, too. This is the time of year when I’m looking for no-bake, fast cook food that can be eaten chilled. (And it is really easy!)

  2. You can now add “Symphony Director of Artistic Living-Large Tabouli” to your long list of amazing credentials, Tracy. Seriously, you are a wealth of information for healthy, creative cooking living, and I thank you!

    1. I’m happy to share, Marylin. And your comment helps me feel like I’m accomplishing my mission, finally. Not long ago I was considering giving up on this… (you know how that goes!)

      One of the reasons I started this blog is because I had to sift through so much misinformation and thinly-disguised sales pitches to get the information and help I was looking for; and I hated that.

      It wasn’t easy to work toward a healthier lifestyle (you know many of my hurdles), but I did have a lot of love and support. Not everyone has that. Because I was given so much, I feel I ought to share it, to encourage people, without judgement, to take little, important steps toward a holistically healthier (physically, mentally, & spiritually) life, in the same way you encourage us to keep a good attitude and keep going through the hard stuff.

  3. P. S. I love this “Variation on 18” music and keep playing it. I think it was the theme for the movie SOMEWHERE IN TIME filmed on Mackinac Island in UP Michigan. This post is a feast!

  4. I was thinking “Rhapsody in Blue” … not sure if it’s the same, but I enjoyed listening to it as I read your Tabouli recipe. We love this, but I never made it. Now, maybe I will. Thank you for sharing, Tracy.

    1. Here’s me, reading your post:

      🙂 (so happy to hear from Jill!)
      🙂 (so happy to hear that it was just what she needed)
      😦 her horrible sinus headache makes me sad!

      2 out of 3 ain’t bad! (I hope your headache goes away very soon!!!)

  5. Hmmm. Tabouleh! Love it. Thanks Tracy for the extra varieties. I usually stick with the traditional Mediterranean but love to try the other ones. It’s all in tha heerbsss!! Yummie!!

  6. YUM! One of my favourites – Thanks for sharing, Tracy. I like it best when it’s made with bulgur wheat but I’m always ready to experiment! Mint is fabulous in it too 😀

    1. Thanks, B. I love music! The various tabouli have become staples in my refrigerator this summer. (It’s been unusually hot, and cold food is the only thing I want to eat).

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