Tabbouleh Salad With a Twist to Share When Words Fail

A Twist on Tabbouleh Salad

It’s true. We all have our quirks. Our less appealing bits about ourselves. Our strengths and our weaknesses. And nowhere is this magnified more than within the walls of a family.

We love each other. We drive each other crazy.

Our families have known us for so long, it’s hard to hide our true personality from each other. They already know it. That time you threw a fit about the unfair rules during a game of Guesstures when you were well past the age that you should be throwing fits about such things – well, you remember it and they remember it. And it wasn’t flattering.

To compound things further, many of us tend to spend a lot of time around each. With our families that is. So while that little quirk in a friend you rarely see is simply endearing, that same little quirk amongst family members can be rather bothersome.

While it wouldn’t be right of me to speak about my other family members in this public forum, I can speak to one of my own quirks as an example. A quirk I know they talk about when I’m not around.

Italian Parsley

I have been told, eh-hem, that I have a tendency to be bossy.

Growing up my younger brother and sister would often say to me, “You think you’re the boss.”

And I would always respond with, “Because I am.”

Backpacking through Europe with two of my dearest friends after college, one finally threw her hands up in frustration and cried out, “Why do you always have to be the one to hold the map and the guidebook?”

“Because it’s my map and it’s my book??”

And most recently, the Rooster tried to soften it by saying, “You know, you can be a little bit bossy.”

My response back was, “You do what you’re good at and let me do what I’m good at.”

And so it goes and we continue to irk each other from time to time with our little habitual behavior.

Butter lettuce

But then something happens – a bit of sadness in someone’s life, a difficult bump in the road, a medical diagnosis that wasn’t expected – and we’re simply grateful for the quirks as we watch another who is known to be bossy as well take charge when nobody else was sure what to do.

And then we all gather together – mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandchildren – and we share a meal. Perhaps some slow-cooked chicken piled in a tortilla and topped with cilantro, a sprinkle of cheese and a spoonful of salsa, a big bowl of tabbouleh with garden-picked parsley and mint, a colander of grapes and the most amazing, moist, dense chocolatey brownies you’ve had in a long time.

We share the meal and we talk about this and that. We watch the kids dance. We sit around a fire pit and have a good chuckle about the pyromaniac tendencies of boys – boys who are now men. We pass around hugs. Hugs that last a little bit longer than usual. Hugs that stand in for the “right thing to say.”

And we’re so grateful we have our family – quirks and all – to gather together during difficult times. Just to be there, to be present, even when we’re not sure what to say.

And somehow, just that, helps one, help another to make it up over the bump.


Tabbouleh Salad With a Twist
Course: salad, vegetables,
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: A family of 5
At a recent family gathering, my sister made this bowl of tabbouleh that I simply could not get enough of. I said to her, "And you say you can't cook. This salad is delicious. I have to have the recipe." She brought out a box of Near East Taboule Mix and showed me the recipe on the back for Greek Taboule Salad. "Just call me Chef of the Boxed Meals," she said as she handed it to me. Boxed meal or not, the salad was delicious and I went home craving more. So much so that I wanted it right then and there without having to go to the grocery store but to my despair I discovered that I did not have bulgar in the house or any form of it in a box and hence, I could not make the salad exactly as my sister did. However, I did have all of the other ingredients and so I went about chopping them and combining them and simply serving them over a bed of butter lettuce. My family licked the salad bowl clean.
  • one head of butter lettuce, washed, dried and torn into pieces
  • 3 meaty, red ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 english cucumber, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • a handful of Italian Parsley leaves, chopped
  • a smaller handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 c crumbled feta cheese
  • Vinaigrette - link to recipe follows below
  1. Prepare all of your vegetables.
  2. Put in a large bowl.
  3. Right before serving, toss with the vinaigrette which can be made with white wine vinegar or lemon juice depending on your taste preference.
  4. Spoon onto plates.
  5. Enjoy!!

Here is the link to my favorite homemade vinaigrette that I posted in January 2010 – Homemade Vinaigrette.


  1. Gor.geous.

    And I share that same, ahem, quirk.


    lovely post!

  2. I love you.

  3. Very sweet post, Carrie! So glad I could be there to share hugs, witness some killer dance moves and rat out my big brother to his children. Payback is fun. Bet they’re still asking questions….Missing you all so much.

  4. There’s no shame in boxed recipes! 🙂
    I’m glad you got inspiration from your sister and tried this. It looks perfect.

  5. greg casteel says:

    carrie from the willamette writers conference… your blog is SO well done! inspirational yet at the same time intimidating to think I have yet to begin my own blog… and this is how (ideally) the whole blog thing should be done! continued success will come your way. just words of admiration and encouragement to dream big and pursue – because you truly DO have got the goods!

    • Oh man, thank you, Greg. Your words have made my day. Home now from WWConf I’m feeling inspired but overwhelmed all at the same time so thank you for the encouragement to keep going. Much success to you as well. Please let me know if I can answer any questions about blogging. I’m happy to do so.

  6. loving this post and the truths you share.