Tabouli And The Pantry Game

by | Sep 24, 2011 | 14 comments

One of the many promises I made to myself this year was to cook with as many different ingredients that I could lay my hands on. Explore every possible corner of the food chart. It is very easy to get stuck in a rut, pasta every night or a pilaf for a weekend lunch, weekend after weekend. Before you know it, you have some amazing ingredients in the pantry collecting dust and mites, whereas your body becomes slave to an ingredient that no longer excites it. I wasn't getting stuck in that rut, but coming awfully close to it on numerous occasions. 
To get over the initial mental block of trying something new because it was either going to take too long or it was just easier to cook what I already knew by rote, I devised a little game. I made little fold up notes of ingredients in the pantry and fridge and put them in a box. Then I got to pick, yayyy! Kind of like a lucky dip. The only rule was that I would have to cook what came up. No takesie backsies! This was a game Nick and I devised many years ago to start watching a lot of variety from our amazing movie collection when we felt we were watching Asian horrors or comedies all the time.
The Pantry Game
One of the first notes that I picked from the box was burghul. With my core ingredient decided, I browsed through some cookbooks and realised that I had all the ingredients I would need to make a big bowl of tabouli. This entire exercise took me a maximum of 5 minutes. I went to my garden and picked loads of fresh parsley. Another 20 minutes later, I was tossing around a bowl of gorgeous smelling tabouli for our dinner. The next challenge was to cook something that went well with it. So I quickly made some meatballs and warmed some pita bread to roll it all up with our favourite sauces. 
Fresh Spring Tabouli




Preparation Time - 20 minutes
Serves 4


1/2 cup fine cracked wheat (burghul)
3/4 cup water
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup chopped mint
12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper


Place burghul in a bowl and cover with water. Allow to stand for 15 minutes until water is completely absorbed.
Place burghul, parsley, mint, tomato, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to combine.
Serve as a salad or side dish with pita bread and hummus, meatballs, falafel or grilled meat.




Once I realised how exciting and not to mention addictive it was to play The Pantry Game, I started doing it more often and before long there was so much more variety at our meal table with very little effort. Do you have any fun system or game you indulge in that makes cooking and exploring ingredients much more fun? I would love to know!



Find More Recipes By CategoryQuick Salad Vegetarian



I love creating easy, vibrant, fresh, everyday recipes and taking gorgeous photos of the food I cook. I have been blogging for 15 years and I have also written a book with over 100 new recipes. If you make a recipe from the blog, Tag @cookrepublic on Instagram. I would love to see!


  1. Nisha

    i love your game idea!

  2. The Cilantropist

    What a great way to challenge yourself, and this tabouli is beautiful! Lovely shots! 🙂

  3. Nash at plateful

    This is one of my favorite salad recipes--we kinda have it every week for dinner. Did I tell you how much I love your pictures...? Too much, really!

  4. GourmetGetaways

    What a great idea for deciding what to cook each night! I love it! I ask the family but I never get any help with dish selection. I love the fact that you placed core ingredients and not dish names in the tin, great thinking.

    I make tabbouleh all the time, we always have parsley in the garden so it is a quick healthy dish. Yours looks so yummy.

  5. Lisa H.

    Fun Idea... I do get mental block at times of what to cook for dinner... 😉

  6. Manju

    AJ always tells me that I should pick ingredients (or rather he would give me secret ingredients in a basket like in Chopped) and try and come up with recipes and cook. It sounded fun but I was never really up for it cos of the usual lame excuses - no time, tired etc etc. I think im falling into that rut now. Need to shake things up and do something else. I like putting all the ingredients you have in chits like that. That way im sure i'll end up using atleast most of it before its expiry date! 🙂

  7. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    That's a fun idea and a good way to get creative.

  8. Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.

    so pretty!!

  9. Jennifer (Delicieux)

    I love tabouli, it's something we have often when the weather warms up, and in fact I was craving some the other day given all the warm weather we are having. Your's looks fantastic. I love that you've simply used halved cherry tomatoes instead of diced tomatoes.

  10. Gaby

    Excellent way of introducing new ingredients in your meals!

  11. yasmeen (wandering spice)

    Mmm, I am a huge lover of burghul. We had it on our table growing up at least 3x/week with various stews, grilled meats and veg, etc.

    Not usually a huge fan of tabbouli, honestly, but yours looks quite nice because it's not overdosing on the parsley!

    Great idea, too, for a lucky dip. I might just try that.

  12. karin@yumandmore

    love the little decision box!!
    great recipe too and bulgur is so mich more digestible than couscous!!

  13. chinmayie @ love food eat

    I think I should make this! Looks like even I have all the ingredients needed for this recipe!

  14. Miss Piggy

    I LOVE tabouli and 'think' I may have even made it once - looks pretty simple. I think I'm inspired to cook things after I see an easy recipe on a blog...


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