DIY Deli Faves: Best Tabouleh Recipe, Hummus, and More

Four Deli Favorites that are Easy to Make and Budget-Friendly

What do hummus, pimiento cheese, chicken liver pate, and the best tabouleh recipe have in common? They’re all customer favorites at delis across America. They are expensive to buy but very economical to make. Learn just how easy it is to make deli-worthy foods in your own kitchen.

Sitti’s Hummus

Along with my mom’s best tabouleh recipe, my family’s hummus is legendary. I don’t think there’s a more popular deli item today than hummus. We scoop up the dip with flatbread.


  • 1 can, 15 oz, chickpeas, drained
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons Tahini/sesame seed paste or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste


  1. So easy! Just mash everything all together, either by hand or in a food processor. You can make it as chunky, or smooth, as you like.
  2. Store in refrigerator up to two weeks.
  3. Freeze up to two months. After thawing, I like to whip it up a little with a whisk.

Hummus is Good for You!

Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans and Ceci beans. They’re a good source of iron, calcium, and fiber. Tahini is also known as sesame seed paste. It’s made of ground sesame seeds. Tahini is a low-glycemic food.

Tahini/Sesame Seed Paste

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Lately, I’ve noticed delis are carrying new varieties of hummus. Here’s a popular one, with vibrant color thanks to the roasted red peppers.


  • 1 can, 15 oz. chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can, 15 oz. garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup Tahini
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted and diced fine, about 3/4 cup
  • Sprig of fresh basil, minced or a few shakes of dry basil, to taste
  • Salt and cayenne to taste (optional)


  1. Just mash everything together, either by hand or in a food processor. You can make it as chunky, or smooth as you like.
  2. Store in the refrigerator up to one week.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Deli Style Pimiento Cheese

This recipe fills the bill for all those that like pimiento cheese a little chunky. Plain old saltines are the cracker of choice here.


  • 8 oz. good quality extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup real mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated dry garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 4 oz. jar diced pimiento drained well
  • Salt to taste


  1. Put cheddar cheese, cream cheese, and mayonnaise into a mixing bowl and mix until blended.
  2. Mix in garlic powder, onion powder, and ground cayenne pepper. When the mixture is combined well, add pimientos and blend.
  3. Let sit at room temperature 10 minutes. Then taste and add more seasonings if you like.
  4. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to two weeks.
Pimiento Cheese

Chicken Liver Pate

I had a Jewish colleague who told me the difference between chopped liver and liver pate is the cooking technique and the smoothness of the finished dish. Chicken livers are cooked thoroughly for chopped liver. For pate, they are seared on the outside but are still a bit pink inside.


  • 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed and drained
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig – 2”, fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. butter or to taste
  • Cognac, brandy, Madeira, or Port — Start with a tablespoon or so and go from there.


  1. Combine the livers, shallots, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme in a saucepan.
  2. Pour in chicken broth. Bring to a simmer; cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the livers are almost done but still a bit pink inside.
  3. Discard bay leaf and thyme stem.
  4. Put everything into a food processor and process until coarsely pureed.
  5. Drop in the butter and process until smooth.
  6. Pour in cognac and process until well mixed.
  7. The mixture will be loose, but firms up in the refrigerator.
  8. Pour into crock, cover and refrigerate until firm.
  9. Serve chilled with toasted baguettes.
Chicken Liver Pate

Paris Pate

When we were in France recently, a trip down the Seine was accompanied by a full course dinner, complete with a lovely, ethereal pate with a thin layer of fat on top.

I wanted to replicate this at home when I was making pate, so I poured a thin layer of cooled, melted butter on top of the pate before refrigerating. How do you say “yum” in French?

My Mother’s Best Tabouleh Recipe

Years ago, if you didn’t make your own tabouleh, you did without. Today, just about every deli has their own version. But homemade is not only so much better, my mom’s best tabouleh recipe makes a generous amount, and is far less expensive than its store-bought cousin.


  • 1 cup bulghur cracked wheat, either fine (#1) grind or coarse (#2)
  • 1-1/2 containers grape tomatoes, cut in half, or equivalent garden tomatoes
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and green part, sliced thin
  • 1/2 to 1 English cucumber, unpeeled, chopped
  • 1 large bunch fresh parsley, leaves chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, red or yellow, chopped
  • Radishes, chopped (optional, to taste)
  • Ground cumin to taste: start with 2 teaspoons
  • Couple 2″ sprigs each fresh basil and mint, chopped or 1 teaspoon each dried
  • Olive oil to taste – I like 2 to 3 tablespoons or so.
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


    1. Place wheat in a bowl and rinse under cool water. Leave about a quarter of an inch of water on top. Let sit until water is absorbed, about 30 minutes or so. When it has been reconstituted correctly, it will be chewy but not hard. Drain remaining liquid if any.
    2. Mix vegetables together.
    3. Add cumin and herbs and mix. Add bulghur and mix. Stir in oil and lemon juice. Taste for seasonings.
    4. This is delicious served with a warm slab of no-knead artisan bread.

Along with these favorites, delis across the country give you an idea of regional specialties. German community delis use generational recipes. They really know how to make hog head cheese. Go to any Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish deli, and you’ll see gallon jars of pickled eggs. I learned how to make pickled eggs with beet juice. These are beautiful and unusual on a deli tray.

Bulghur Wheat


Cracked Wheat Raw wheat berries are simply milled into smaller pieces.
Bulghur/Bulgur Wheat Wheat berries are parboiled, dried, and broken into pieces. Needs to be reconstituted for tabbouleh.

What deli favorites do you make at home?

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