Tabbouleh with a Twist

Tabbouleh is an Arabic dish comprised of bulgur and fresh herbs and vegetables. It is served as part of a mezze (Middle Eastern appetizers) and can also accompany many dishes as a refreshing side dish. I decided to give the classic tabbouleh a small twist, by omitting the cucumber and combining it with a salad that my grandmother used to make to accompany heavy meals. The salad included roasted eggplant, parsley, tomatoes, lots of garlic and lemon juice. Combining these two dishes together worked very nicely. The dish has some bright flavors of garlic, lemon and salt, and I love it!

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Ingredients:
1 cup coarse bulgur
2 medium eggplants
2 large tomatoes, diced
6-8 small cloves garlic, minced
½ cup parsley leaves, chopped
Juice from 1 large lemon (or 1 ½ if you are me)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt

Preparation:
Place the bulgur in a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water, about 3 inches above the bulgur, and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Drain to remove excess water.

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Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast under the broiler or on the grill. Poke the eggplant with a knife in several places to prevent it from exploding when on the grill. Let the skin get charred, then turn the eggplant 90 degrees and roast until charred. Repeat the process until the eggplants are well charred all around. Remove from the heat and leave on the side to cool.

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When cool enough to handle, scoop out the meat of the eggplants, using a spoon. Chop the meat on a cutting board. I also like to chop a little bit of the charred skin. It adds a great smokey flavor to the eggplant.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix together. Let sit for 30 minutes to allow the bulgur to absorb the flavors.

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Bulgur Couscous

Bulgur is a delicious and nutritious grain. It is basically cracked wheat and you can find it in Middle eastern stores in two sizes, coarse and fine. The coarse bulgur has a nice bite to it. It is used in tabbouleh, salads, and side dishes. I call it couscous because it reminds me of couscous in its look, although it doesn’t taste at all like couscous. The fine bulgur is used for kibbes, stuffing, and porridge-like dishes.

This recipe is a very basic method to cook bulgur. Usually you don’t even need to cook it. Soaking it in hot water for half an hour gets it ready to be used in tabbouleh, for example. The added cooking process is only to let the bulgur soak in the flavors we want to add to it. Since it is already soaked in water, there is no need to add much water during cooking time. ¼ cup water for two cups of soaked bulgur is all it takes.

Ingredients:
2 cups coarse bulgur
4 tbs oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp coriander seeds
1tsp Aleppo pepper
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt
Black pepper
¼ cup water

Preparation:
Place the bulgur in a medium size bowl and cover with warm water, about 3 inches above the bulgur. Soak for half an hour. Drain the bulgur and discard of the remaining water.

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion until golden. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute.

Add the drained bulgur and sauté for 2 minutes.

Add the spices and ¼ cup of water. Stir well, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.

Mediterranean Medley

Eggplants, zucchini, bell peppers, basil, olive oil and garlic….couldn’t get more Mediterranean then that.

This wonderful dish can be served as a salad or as a side dish, warm or at room temperature. It is at its best a day after preparing it as the flavors combine into a cohesive dish.

Ingredients:
2 eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 zucchinis, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 bell peppers
Olive oil for drizzling
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 sprigs basil (1 cup)
3 tbs white vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
Salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400F.

Place the cubed eggplants and zucchini on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes, until eggplants are golden. Remove from the oven and chill.

Place the whole bell peppers on a baking sheet. Set the oven to hi broil and roast the peppers until skin is charred. Turn the peppers and char them all around. Remove from the oven and place in a pot with a lid to let the peppers sweat. When cold enough to handle, peel the skin off the peppers and remove the stem and the seeds. Cut the peppers into strips.

In a large bowl, place the roasted eggplants, zucchini and peppers.

Cut the basil leaves into thin strips and add to the bowl.

Add the garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and salt, and toss the salad well.

Keep refrigerated overnight or at least 4 hours before serving, to let all flavors come together.

Best Cauliflower Salad

I’m proud to say that this salad is my creation. I created it a while ago, and everyone who tasted it fell in love. We entertain a lot, and this salad is a star in almost every meal. Whenever we are invited to dinner, I’m asked to bring this cauliflower salad. I already gave the recipe to so many people and got so much great feedback that it’s time I finally posted it here.

Ingredients:
1 head large cauliflower
3tbs olive oil
30 cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ bunch (1 cup) coarsely chopped cilantro
3 cloves garlic
2tbs olive oil
Juice from ½ lemon
Salt
Black pepper
½ tsp cumin

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut the cauliflower head into small florets and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and add 3tbs olive oil. Mix well.

Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet in one layer and roast in the pre-heated oven until cauliflower is nicely roasted, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and chill.

Cut the tomatoes in half and place in a large bowl.

Add the chopped cilantro and the sliced onion to the bowl.

Peel and slice the garlic. Heat 2tbs oil in a small frying pan and add the garlic. Saute just until the garlic is starting to brown. Pour the garlic and the oil into the large bowl with the tomatoes.

Add the chilled cauliflower to the bowl.

Pour in the lemon juice, add some salt and cumin, and mix to well combine all the ingredients.

Let rest for 30 minutes so the flavors are well absorbed.

Sweet Potato in Curry and Cinnamon

My daughter doesn’t like vegetables. She’s been fighting it for years. But for someone who really wants to be vegan and healthy, she has to learn to eat her veggies somehow. Last week, being home from college, she decided to experiment a little in the kitchen. She found one sweet potato and decided to combine it with Indian flavors that we all love so much. When she let us try the end result, we were all blown away. It came out DELICIOUS!! So Indian tasting on one hand, and so original on the other. She actually invented a dish, and a really good one, too. I’m so proud of her!

So, we made it again last night, this time with measurements, so I can post the recipe for all of you to enjoy.

Ingredients:
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tbs oil
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp curry powder
black pepper
Salt

Dressing:
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
Juice and zest from 1 large lime
3 tbs oil

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix the sweet potatoes with the spices. Line a baking sheet with tin foil, and spread the sweet potatoes on top, in one layer.

Roast the sweet potatoes until they are soft, about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, in a large bowl, mix the dressing ingredients.

Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and toss them in the bowl with the dressing. Coat all pieces with the dressing but be careful not to mash the sweet potato.

Return to the baking sheet, turn the oven to hi broil and broil for a few minutes, until the sweet potatoes are roasted and crispy.

Remove from the oven and try not to finish everything while you wait for it to cool off.

Eggplants and Bell Peppers in Vinegar

This dish is a Moroccan salad served as part of a mezze table. It is one of my favorite salads ever! The combination of eggplants (my favorite veggie) and peppers with garlic and vinegar is divine! In our house we eat it as a side dish or on a sandwich. It is best to make it a day before you plan on serving it, to let the flavors combine.

Ingredients:
3 eggplants, cubed
oil spray
4 bell peppers, grilled
5 sprigs parsley, chopped thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons oil
Salt

Preparation:
Preheat your oven to 400F.

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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with oil spray. Spread the cubes of eggplant on the baking sheet in one layer and spray on top with the oil. You may need more than one baking sheet to accommodate all the eggplant. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until eggplant is turning golden brown. Remove from the oven.

Peel the grilled peppers, discard of the stem and the seeds, and cut the flesh into ½ inch strips.

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In a large bowl, combine the strips of peppers, roasted eggplant, parsley, garlic, oil, salt and vinegar. Mix well and let sit for a few hours to a day before serving. This salad tastes best the following day, after all flavors are absorbed.

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