Changing Times

I grew up in the meat and potatoes land of the Midwest and, more often than not, I embrace the culinary tradition of simple food treated with simple preparation. But I also schooled just on the other side of the Hudson River from New York City and that gave me ample opportunity to enjoy a delicious tour of the world's cuisine without expensive airline tickets. I'd have falafels with creamy hummus one day and sushi washed down with sake the next. I learned a lot about what different cultures had to offer, both in and out of the kitchen, and tucked many of the cooking techniques and ingredients away for that far-off day in my dreams when I'd have my own space for cooking to my heart's content.

Fast forward more than a couple of years, and that shy girl from the Midwest would be tickled to see some of the amazing food that graces her "grownup" self's table. And sometimes, that simple food with simple preparations thing from her childhood shows up in the cuisine of cultures hailing from half a world away. For instance, take this salad that's hearty enough to be a light lunch or stand up to entrees like grilled beef, pork, or chicken:

Tabbouleh is a fun salad traditionally served in the Middle East alongside any number of other beautifully spiced and presented dishes. It's usually make with cracked bulgur, although this version is made with quinoa to make it a gluten free salad. Like a good pot roast in the Midwest, recipes for tabbouleh vary a lot, but most have at least one kind of hearty grain, chopped parsley, a variety of chopped vegetables, and more than a little lemon juice and olive oil. Legumes, like chickpeas, or crumbled feta could easily be added. Part of the appeal of this great salad is how very versatile it is.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

  • 1 c. cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 c. kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 c. small tomatoes, halved (I used pear tomatoes, but grape or cherry tomatoes also work well)
  • 1 c. loosely packed fresh parsley leaves (I prefer flat leaf), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to thoroughly coat everything with the dressing and homogenize the mixture. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes plus chilling time (if desired)

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