I was casually asked at a dinner party just last Friday what my blog is all about. It’s questions like those that make you step back and try to fill in the gaps with inside knowledge but outside perspective. I concluded that it’s the story of a life, told through food. I share recipes and the emotional connections tied to each, because food always evokes some sort of memory.
Unlike most food blogs, you guys have plenty of anecdotal evidence on me… You know about my childhood, how I left home early to study abroad, my struggle with autoimmune illness, my former obsession with croissants, bagels and ice cream and my love for all things French. You know where and how each recipe was born and who in my life inspired it. And it makes us feel acquainted. Almost familiar. You probably fill in your gaps and draw your own parallels. And sometimes, you share them with me and I genuinely thank you for that.
I’ve been slightly missing in action; partly because I had surgery two weeks ago. And partly because one of my best friends (the serious chocoholic who introduced me to the trade) flew in from London for a lightning three day visit. And well, I sure ate my way across the city with her. Oh and Sunday we ate a long table full of food at my house! Yep, am not even kidding or metaphorically speaking. I have not eaten so much in a long, long time. It merits its own separate lifestyle post to share where I went, what we ate and what I cooked on Sunday. So stay tuned for that!
But today I’m going to share with you this bowl packed with Middle Eastern goodness that brings me right back to my grandmother’s kitchen in a heart beat. It has: grilled eggplant & roasted cauliflower, arugula (rocket) salad, pickled red cabbage, buckwheat tabbouleh, 5-bean falafel, roasted potatoes and my silky, delicious hummus. The recipe for the hummus is already on my site. And if you want the hummus EXTRA smooth: remove the chickpea skins. I’ll explain a quick detour. Sounds crazy and time consuming, but makes a noticeable difference in the end result!
However, there’s one thing I won’t be able to share with you tonight; and that’s the falafel. The falafel will have it’s own separate post, as it’s still being tested. I tried baking it, and it wasn’t holding as well. So I fried it in avocado oil! And it held together perfectly.
BUT, all recipes I publish need to pass two tests before I share them with you: 1) Can they be successfully reheated the following day and still taste good? 2) Can they be frozen and thawed or reheated and still remain intact? Everything passed. Falafel Failed! Yep. That sums it up. Reheating resulted in a rock-like bean pattie that could easily knock off a tooth. I tried heating it for less time and it was chewy and hardening quickly. So am going to do what always do with everything else: am going to keep trying! And I will bring you something solid that’s my own and moist, and lightly spicy and amazing. But for EVERYTHING else in this bowl, here we go!
Buckwheat or Quinoa Tabbouleh
- 1 cup raw buckwheat or quinoa (was tested on both- the middle picture is quinoa!)
- For both; buckwheat & quinoa you need 2 cups of water or broth. If you buy broth, always ensure to get low-sodium.
- 3 tomatoes, finely diced
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced. To add a flavor punch, pickle it overnight. Simply cover it in white vinegar and throw in a pinch of sea salt. It’s amazing!
- 2 cups of finely chopped parsley. Italian curly parsley works best.
- 1/2 a cucumber, finely chopped.
- 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice (about 3-4 lemons).
- Sea salt & black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp of sumac (optional)
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp for the dressing & 1 tbsp for the grains)
- 1 tbsp of hemp hearts (sprinkled before serving, for added protein)
- We cook our grains first. Bring the water or broth to a boil. Add 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Throw in the grains and let them boil for about 1 min. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the saucepan. Cook for about 20 mins while stirring often. Remove from heat and allow to fluff up and cool.
- While the grains are cooking, get out your cutting board and start dicing and slicing the cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion & parsley.
- In a blender, throw in the garlic, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, sumac and sea salt and pepper to taste. This is your dressing.
- Mix the grains with the veggies & the dressing and serve up! You may sprinkle the hemp hearts at this point. This keeps well in the fridge in an enclosed container for about 5 days. It’s amazing, simple & so refreshing!
For the Hummus: The yummy recipe is already on the blog! You may find it under appetizers or search “hummus”. Remove the chickpea skins for extra smooth results. I like to save time and always use canned, organic chickpeas. I also have an old trusty trick to remove the skins, it’s actually my grandma’s. You rinse them and let them dry up a bit over a kitchen towel. And then you rub them in batches to create friction and the skins peel off really easily!
For the Pickled Red Cabbage: For 1 cabbage, you need 2 tbsp of sea salt & 10 tbsp of white vinegar. Cut the cabbage in half, and then in quarters. Slice thinly and place the chopped cabbage inside a large bowl. Mix in the salt and toss around. Cover with a plate or foil and set aside for 24 hours. 1 full cabbage can fill up to eight 10 ounce mason jars! I don’t have that much room in my kitchen… I always pickle half a cabbage at a time: 5 tbsp of white vinegar & 1 tbsp of sea salt are all that’s needed. Make sure you sterilize the jars in hot water before filling them with the cabbage and vinegar! I like to throw in a little sumac into these, too! Sumac on everything! Don’t fill the jar all the way to the top with vinegar. I leave 2-3 inches empty for air flow.