quinoa tabbouleh

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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

oui, chutzpah! (israeli couscous and french lentil salad)

It’s hard to top summer’s abundance of leafy greens piled high with fresh-picked vegetables from the garden. The Queen of Summer cuisine is back, in shades of fern and chartreuse. The Salad has arrived, piled high on our plates like hibiscus blossoms offered to a Hindu god, to cleanse us of any vegetable estrangement that might still linger from winter.

Yet there’s another kind of salad that’s captured my coeur. A salad with chew and bulk and just the right amount of cheekiness. A salad merging the semolina pearls of Israeli couscous with the freckled indigo lentilles du Puy. A salad with chutzpah.

Like other pasta- or grain-based salads like tabbouleh, this salad will do double-duty as a side or the main show. Cool enough for company and easy enough for Monday, it shines alongside burgers or lugged along to potluck. Or how about stashed away in the fridge for a lunch-hour crisis that might otherwise send you to the snack cupboard? Sharing is so overrated.

When I first made this salad, it was the not-so-obvious combination of textures and tastes that really struck the “make again” sensors. As I get more comfortable making “ethnic” food, I have learned that mint and cinnamon, dates and pine nuts are perfectly happy co-habiting. These surprise minglings are one of the most basic pleasures of eating — something that too often gets lost to convenience and habit.

Let this salad break you out of a romaine n’ ranch rut. I promise it will make your taste buds bellow a different kind of Tradition! from the rooftop.

Continue reading