Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Story and a Recipe

Al Saab owned and operated the best steakhouse/speakeasy in Tulsa. He was Lebanese and his place catered to Federal judges, oil and gas men, and very high class fallen women. He was a close friend and client of my father. You had to enter his place through the kitchen and if he didn’t approve, you didn’t get in. He fell in love with Nancy the first time he met her and cried whenever we went to his place. We never paid a check, always left with a wrapped side of ribs, and when he closed the place he gave two people the recipe to his tabouli, my father and Nancy.

When Nancy was pregnant, instead of pickles or ice cream cravings, she asked for tabouli so often I was worried the babies would look like Al.

Note: This is a salad. The parsley should dominate the wheat. This means oil and lemon juice are vital to balance the flavors, but neither should dominate the other and neither should dominate the parsley and wheat.

Serves 25 ice cream scoops or 10 full salads.


2 to 4 large bunches of parsley, chopped fine by knife (flat leaf preferred but curly acceptable and cheaper)

1 pound cracked wheat (bulgur)
1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped in .25” dice (Use yellow pepper for a good color contrast)

2 ripe beefsteak or 4 to 6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped to .25” dice (save the juice and add to the salad after straining)

Optional: 1 cucumber, seeded and diced to .25” dice

1 large or 2 small bunches green or spring onions, sliced in .25” rings

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons fresh chopped mint

1 to 2 teaspoons salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Approximately 6 or 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 6 to 8 lemons


Soak the bulgur in very hot water in a separate bowl until soft.

Combine chopped parsley, tomato, tomato juice, sweet pepper, cucumber, onion, mint, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
Add 5 tablespoons of olive oil to the combined vegetable and mix well. Vegetables should be well coated in oil.
Add black pepper generously and 2 teaspoons of salt to vegetables and mix well.
Squeeze bulgur dry by hand and add to vegetables when cool. Mix well.
Juice lemons and add juice from 6 to the mix. Taste. Adjust oil first, then lemon juice, then salt.

Chill and serve.

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