Celery and Za’atar Tabouli

By • March 11, 2012 35 Comments

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Author Notes: I love tabouli and eat it all summer long. I usually make it with cucumbers and tomatoes, but they can get watery and don't travel well. I love the taste of celery, and especially the leaves--green and vegetal and slightly bitter -- I use celery leaves frequently in my cooking. I also love za'atar, and thought it would marry well with celery. In this salad, you use the celery and the leaves, and while proportions are stated in the recipe, I suggest that you adjust according to your taste. For example, I like lemony tabouli salad, so my ratio of lemon (a lot) to olive or walnut oil (a little) may not work for you. I use bulgur wheat in tabouli, which is traditional, but I’ve made it with couscous and quinoa, both of which work really well.

Food52 Review: WHO: Drbabs is a Food52er we know and love -- and trust in the kitchen.
WHAT: A new version of tabouli, created with portability in mind.
HOW: Make bulgur, add mix-ins. That's it -- seriously.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Run-of-the-mill tabouli has a way of getting water-logged too easily. By replacing the normal tomato and cucumber with sturdy nuts and crunchy celery, drbabs has effectively solved that problem. Pack the smart garnishes (yogurt, feta, and extra spice), and take this on your longest trip -- we dare you.
The Editors

Serves 4

Za'atar (If you can't find it ready-made)

  • 3 tablespoons dried thyme (or lemon thyme, if you can find it)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (not traditional, but adds a nice bite of heat)


  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/4 cup za'atar
  • 1 3/4 cups boiling water
  • Juice and zest of 1 to 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons walnut or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 4 to 6 inner stalks of celery with leaves, finely chopped (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of chopped celery with leaves)
  • 1 spring onion or 2 scallions, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • More za'atar as needed
  • Crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, stir za’atar into bulgur wheat and pour boiling water over the mixture. Let sit until the water is completely absorbed, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, zest and juice your lemon, chop your parsley, onions and celery, toast your walnuts.
  2. When the wheat has absorbed all the water and cooled to room temperature, stir in zest and juice of one lemon (you might add more later) and 2 tablespoons of walnut or olive oil. Add in chopped parsley, onions, and celery and stir well. Taste. Add salt and pepper to taste, and adjust the rest of the seasoning to your taste. You may need more oil and/or lemon juice, and you may want to stir in more za’atar.
  3. To serve, scoop the tabouli onto a plate and add a tablespoon or so of plain yogurt. Sprinkle the yogurt with a tablespoon of the chopped walnuts and a pinch or two of za’atar. (I've also eaten it with a sprinkling of feta cheese, and it's really good!)

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