Simply Food: Tabbouleh

Some friends of ours were over for dinner last night. We made lobster rolls because we weren’t ready to put that recipe away until next summer. They were so delicious. Lobster rolls always are. After we ate and drank a few bottles of wine, we started talking about dinner the next night. One thing lead to another and we were invited to go to their house the following night for to eat. I was really excited because we are usually the ones cooking. Everyone comes here for dinner. I loved the idea of just showing up and eating some place else. I told them I would make tabbouleh and bring it over. They thought that was a great idea.

So, tonight we arrived with our big bowl of tabbouleh. They cooked a huge slab of ribs, corn, asparagus, and steamed clams. It was all so delicious. It was nice to be the guests. I really enjoyed all of it. They even bought a couple of bottles of delicious wine. To top it all off, their kids cleaned all of the dishes. What? That happens? I was impressed. I’m obviously doing something wrong because I can rarely get my kids to do the dishes without paying them. Honestly, when my parents come here from California, they pay the kids to clean the kitchen. That’s embarrassing.

I had to look up the correct spelling of tabbouleh as I began to write this article. Turns out, there are several spellings and I don’t know which one is correct. I decided to go with tabbouleh. I also read, tabouli, taboule, taboli and tabouleh. I am not certain if there is an actual correct way to spell it. What I do know is that I absolutely love tabbouleh. When I was a little girl, there was an Armenian deli near my school. When I say little girl, I actually mean in high school. Man, I am getting old. My boyfriend at the time was half Lebanese and half Italian. He and his family introduced me to many different types of food. Tabbouleh was one of my favorites. I loved the mixture of the herbs and the tanginess of the lemon flavor. It was like nothing I had ever eaten before. I ordered it every time we went to the deli. I also loved hummus, baba ganoush, and stuffed grape leaves. I was a big fan of Middle Eastern cuisine.

Tabbouleh is usually made with bulgar wheat which was used by people over 4,000 years ago. I am not sure when the addition of herbs and spices were included to make this delicious salad. But, thank goodness someone came up with this because it is so delicious and flavorful. I love the combination of fresh mint and fresh curly parsley. These flavors really go well together. You wouldn’t think this would be the case but it makes the salad so fresh tasting. You can add more or less of the herbs. I prefer it to be heavy on the herbs and lighter on the grains. I have had it in different varying proportions. It’s always good but must be a matter of taste and desire. This salad is a perfect example of a dish in a Mediterranean diet style of cooking. It contains whole grain, herbs, olive oil, spices, lemon juice and tomatoes.

I decided to take a little twist on the usual bulgar used in tabbouleh and made a version with quinoa instead. I really love using quinoa. It is a highly nutritious food. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has declared 2013 to be recognized as “The International Year of Quinoa.” This was proposed by the government of Bolivia and has received strong support from many Central and South American countries. It has a highly nutritive value and an impressive biodiversity. Therefore, it plays and important role in the achievement of food security worldwide.

Quinoa remains unfamiliar to many people around the world and isn’t listed in too many recipes. I am hoping to help to change this. That is why I try to substitute it often times in my recipes. I use is instead of rice or wheat in lots of things. It cooks quicker and is so easy to use. Instead of the usual forty minutes it takes to cook brown rice, quinoa is ready in about fifteen minutes. This is great for my lazy teenage daughter. When she cooks, she prefers the meal to come in a box, which can be thrown into the microwave for four minutes. However, once I showed her how easy quinoa is, she had been making more stirfrys instead. She just cooks up some quinoa and tosses in some sauted vegetables. I think that is much better than boxed food.

Well, the quinoa tabbouleh was a big hit. It didn’t detract from how delicious the clams in butter and herbs tasted but it was a good compliment. Claud said the barbeque ribs went really well with the salad too. I was happy that the quinoa worked. Having dinner two nights in a row with really good friends was a great way to spend the holiday weekend.

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