Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Mediterranean Table: Tabouli

There was a time that the words "green" and "leafy" were terms I didn't want anything to do with in regards to food. As a kid I’d slather my dinner salad with ketchup or hot sauce, just to avoid the crunchy lettuce green underneath. I didn’t like sliced tomatoes, only in sauces or condiments. I liked raw celery, but only if there was something creamy on top. My parents had to literally hide vegetables in really creative ways just so I'd have a more balanced diet. This went on for years, even the months prior to becoming gluten free.

But I’m a different person; vegetables are Morri’s best friends. In fact, the Burt-man gripes how large the dinner salads I make are. At most, it’s three servings of veggies… maybe.

The best thing about salads is the creative license that comes with making them. You can put anything into it, from vegetables to fruits to nuts to protein to grains. They can be vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, and/or gluten free. They can be a starter to any meal, the meal itself, or a light snack in between. It’s a beautiful concept, really.

Whenever our favorite family friend comes to visit to talk shop about community conflict resolution, we always have a Mediterranean buffet on the dinner table with a smorgasbord of meats, breads, spreads, and veggies. Tabouli (or tabbouleh) was, for some reason or another, one of the few vegetable plates I actually enjoyed during my pre-evolved palate years. It was also one of the dishes I missed after going gluten free. But there’s a way to making it without the bulgur wheat among the parsley. Sure, you can just remove the bulgur wheat, but I think the salad would be lacking.

This is the beauty of quinoa. This South American seed is a wonderful substitution for the gluteny specks. Plus, it’s filled with protein-packed goodness with a mild taste that really enhances the overall flavor.

Quinoa Tabouli

Two bushels Parsley
1/2 Medium white onion, finely diced
2 c. Quinoa, cooked
1 c. Seedless cucumber, finely diced
16 oz Cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. Crushed garlic
13 Mint leaves put through the food processor, roughly 1 1/2 tsp.
1/3 c. Olive oil
1/6 c. Unrefined apple cider vinegar
1 Lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 – 2 tsp. Black sesame seeds

In a medium pot or rice cooker, cook the two cups of dry quinoa by the instructions on the box.
When the quinoa is done, set aside to cool.
Wash the bushel of parsley and drain of excess water, then pull the leaves off the stems.
Add the remaining ingredients in with the parsley, and fold in the quinoa (this salad is quinoa-heavy, so if you want the focus to be on the veggies, use half of the quinoa).
This can be served immediately or made ahead of time and put it the fridge to chill.

Serves 6 – 8 people as a side salad.

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