I debated calling this next series of posts “The Unemployment Project, Part I (etc).” Since I’m not sure how long this is going to last, however, I figured I’d spare you from an ever-lengthening string of Roman numerals. Until my employment prospects crystallize, I’ve decided to give this neglected website of mine some love: Get ready to eat.
As I wrote in my last post, I’ve had to adjust lately to this strange new thing called free time. Sure, there have been weekend road trips to weddings and triathlons and concerts. There have gatherings with friends and leisurely walks. But the consuming projects and imperatives, not so much.
It’s like returning to an older verison of myself. There are going to be days where I’ll have to dig through those familiar storerooms of strength.
That said, things haven’t been so bad.
I shot photos for Edible Finger Lakes magazine on Monday (wait! I’m supposed to be a writer!), and got to meet the ringleader of Central New York’s Slow Food Chapter. Dipping into a different medium however, shooting his kitchen, meeting his bees, and marvelling at his asparagus plants was inspiring. And the invitation to pick fresh mint, marjoram and lavender whenever I need to? Priceless.
Tuesday was a frustrating day spent trying to secure certification to work in this country. But this is a food blog, not a rant, so I’ll spare you the story. Three things helped redeem that day: Wegman’s air-conditioning and rotisserie chickens, and this tabbouleh salad.
Tabbouleh (ta-boo-lee) is a Middle-Eastern dish that showcases fresh herbs. If you don’t like to be hit over the head with parsley, simply use the lesser amount.
It’s also traditionally made with coarsely-ground bulgur wheat, but since my life is basically one big steamy love affair with quinoa, I decided to try mixing it up a little. More protein and ancient grains never hurt anybody.
It’s funny how one little conversation with my mother about her parsley plant led to subsequent days of fresh, tangy leftover salad. Not a bad way to start off this new, as yet unnamed season in my life.
1 cup quinoa
1 ½ cups water
1 teaspoon coarse salt
3-4 cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves (lay the leaves on top of each other, roll tightly, and chop)
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 ¼ teaspoons coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3 to 4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
up to a ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, depending on your tastes
2 medium tomatoes, cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
Toast quinoa in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat, stirring or shaking frequently for 6 to 8 minutes. You’ll start to smell its nuttiness when it’s done. Add the water and 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool to room temperature.
Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature with pita bread and roasted chicken for impromput gyros. Tabbouleh can be prepared up to 2 hours ahead and refrigerated.