This delicious salad is filling, full of aromatic green herbs and SO easy to make! Kissir is a Turkish bulgur salad that has spread from the Anatolian region and is very popular all over Turkey. This basic recipe can be modified with your favorite add-ins. […]
This turmeric and herb chicken soup is a clean, wholesome, and hearty bowl of comfort to help anyone get through the winter blues or recover from the cold and flu season. This golden soup yields a flavorful and nutrient dense bone broth that is simmered […]
This lentil tabbouli salad is the perfect autumn spin off of the classic Middle Eastern salad famous for its delicious combination of parsley, mint, and wheat burgul soaked in lemon and olive oil. I substituted the traditional wheat bulgur grain for a gluten-free and protein rich option: lentils! Everyone in my family loves tabbouli, and for good reason. With its aromatic herbs of parsley and mint, juicy tomatoes and pomegranate, cool crunchy cucumbers, and the lemon dressing coating tender lentils, this salad is worth every effort it takes to prepare it. Tabbouli has always been my absolute FAVORITE salad. This version will definitely be a hit on your table and the leftovers will be great for the next day’s lunch.
Substituting the bulgur for other super food grains is a great way to change up the salad routine and introduce new flavors and foods into your diet. My kids LOVE tabbouli so I try to sneak in various ingredients like spinach or kale to get them to enjoy different foods. You could also check out my recipe for quinoa tabbouli which is very filling and tastes exactly the same as the original tabbouli, except it has more protein. Because I am making this salad in the fall, I include the beautiful pomegranates that are in season as they add a bright splash of color and juicy, tart flavor to this salad.
Preparing the ingredients
The love in making tabbouli starts with careful preparation and quality ingredients. Because the main base of the salad is the green parsley, get a good variety. I grow my own organic parsley at home, and it is VERY easy to do. Give it a try! Flat leaf parsley has the best texture, as curly parsley can be too dry and lacking in flavor. It takes some time to thoroughly wash all of the parsley leaves required to make this salad. I like to take the entire bunch of parsley and immerse it in a large bowl of cold water. I then rinse handfuls under running water and shake clean. You will be horrified at the amount of dirt that is sitting at the bottom of the bowl when you are done! It is well worth the careful washing here.
To get the leaves off the stems, I usually enlist the help of my kids. I give them a bowl for the stems to discard and they go right to town picking off all the leaves. An added bonus to this help, is that they alway get excited to eat what they make. Allowing them to help and feel like they made this meal is a bonus!
In a similar fashion, lay out the dry lentils on a large plate and pick them over for any debris, dirt, or bad legumes. Luckily, my kids also love doing this task. Let’s see until what age I can fool them into these tedious tasks!
Chopping the Salad
Making a great bowl of tabbouli consists of having a sharp knife and properly dicing all of your ingredients into cute little cubes. For the tomatoes, I cut off the top, where the stem is (and my girls or I eat the excess fruit around the stalk of course!). I then slice the tomato from top to bottom in round slices that are about 1/2 an inch thick. Then dice each slice into quarter inch squares.
For the cucumber, make two cuts all the way down the length of the cucumber in the center, stopping just before the end by about 4 inches, so as to not separate all the pieces yet. Then cut again across, and again, and again creating a lattice of slices. Then slice 1/4 inch rounds, and they will land on the chopping board in perfectly little squares according to the lattice of slices made. Do this with each cucumber. I usually just eat the base of the cucumber that wasn’t sliced. Its faster than slicing it manually 🙂
My trick to chopping enough parsley? I usually blitz it in my food processor, along with the mint leaves, and a clove of garlic. I just pulse it about 5 times and the leaves are perfectly chopped.
Once you have chopped all of your veggies, it is easy 😀 Drizzle the dressing all over the salad, toss, and sprinkle the top with the juicy gems of pomegranate kernels. Bil Hana wil Shifaa! (Egyptian phrase for: With happiness and healing!)
- 2 Persian cucumbers, diced I usually find "English" cucumbers which is similar
- 2-3 Roma Tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 c scallions, diced
- 1/2 c pomegranate kernels
- 1 c green lentils
- 2 c Italian flat leaf parsley leaves, stems removed, and finely chopped
- 1/2 c fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
For the Dressing
- 1/2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- In a pot over high- medium heat, lightly toast the lentils in 2 tbsp of oil. Do not add in any salt in this step.
- Add enough water to just cover the lentils by a centimeter. Wait for the pot to boil and reduce the heat to medium-low heat. Allow the lentils to cook until the water evaporates. Add a tsp of salt and mix in well. Allow to cool completely and refrigerate before adding to the salad.
- In a large salad bowl, combine the chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and scallions.
- Create a crater in the center of the salad bowl and add in the cold lentils.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Add all other dressing ingredients gradually as you continue to whisk.
- Drizzle the dressing all over the salad, toss, and sprinkle the top with the red gems of pomegranate kernels.
One of the best dishes to originate from Middle Eastern cuisine, this delicious and savory blend of rice, fresh herbs and tomatoes wrapped in a juicy cabbage leaf will leave everyone begging for more! This healthy dish is easily an all time favorite and comfort […]
This is not only extremely easy and fast to make, but the best recipe yet. I love a good marinara sauce because it is so basic and essential in so many recipes: spaghetti, linguine, lasagne, casserole, grilled vegetables, shrimp stir-fry, stuffed zucchini and peppers, eggplant […]
Here is another one of my absolute favorite Middle Eastern dishes. “Mahshy” literally means stuffed, and I love all things mashy. Stuffed vegetables, stuffed grape leaves, and stuffed cabbage are all fantastic dishes in the Middle Eastern kitchen. Parsley and mint are prevalent in most Middle Eastern recipes, as is garlic. All three of these flavorings take center stage in this recipe. This satisfying dish can serve as a main entree or a side. The stuffing can be prepared completely vegetarian with only the herbs and rice, or you can add ground beef or lamb as we typically prefer to do. But I have cooked it both ways many times, and it is very delicious and full of flavor either way!
The stuffing consists of medium grain rice (get Egyptian rice if you are shopping at an International market, or sticky sushi rice works well per the recommendation of my girl Dalia), chopped parsley, mint, dill, diced onions, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, and some spices. The spices are a medley of cinnamon, cumin, baharat, salt and pepper. The Arabic spice baharat, is a warm, aromatic all-purpose spice and it is used often in most Middle Eastern recipes. You are not likely to find it in a regular grocery store. If you do not have access to a Middle Eastern store, you could use a combination of ground all spice and cloves as an adequate substitute. You could also make your own baharat spices with the following recipe I found on The Kitchn. If you are using ground meat in the stuffing, you will need to cook this first in a pot with minced onions, salt and pepper, and a dash of all spice.
The eggplants and zucchinis need to get cored with a coring tool, or a butter knife works well if you use careful strokes! Peppers are wonderful because all you need to do is cut the top off. The last time we did this we used the smaller sweet peppers that come in a variety or red, orange, and yellow. I also love to use an onion as is typical in Iraq. You simply simmer a peeled onion in boiling water for a few minutes until the layers become malleable enough to roll. When this dish cooks, the cinnamon, herbs, and vegetables scent the air beautifully; it simply smells amazing!
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Anybody can stuff some veggies with this flavorful filling, and you’d be halfway there at achieving deliciousness. But the secret is in the sauce. I have had this dish prepared before and it tasted either too dry from baking in the oven or too bland. The sauce I use to cook this in perfects the flavor and texture and must not be omitted! It is simply wonderful: very lemony and cooks the veggies and stuffing juicy and zesty and full of flavor. As most of my cooking is a delicate fusion of many Middle Eastern countries, this dish originates from my mother’s Egyptian cooking, but is infused with some delicious Lebanese flavor that I picked up from one of my best friends, Melanie. Melanie’s stepmother, Tunt Soad, who is an excellent chef from Lebanon would often have this dish prepared when we would come over after school and I always looked forward to it! When I wasn’t at her house I would beg her to bring some to school for lunch, and I still craved more. I finally asked Tunt Soad for the recipe and have been cooking my stuffed veggies the same way ever since! The sauce consists of marinara sauce, fresh squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, dry mint, baharat, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
You can either stack the stuffed veggies in a pot and cook over the stove, or lay them in a baking dish and bake in the oven. As long as you cover the veggies with this sauce it will come out nice and juicy and flavorful. Enjoy! Or as they say in Lebanon “Sahtein” (good health) or “Bil hana wil shifa” (with joy and with health) as they say in Egypyt. After all isn’t that what food should be for: health, nutrition, and well-being?
- about 10 short and wide zucchinis
- about 10 short and wide eggplants
- 1 large onion
- 2 large bell peppers
- 1 c medium grain rice (Egyptian rice or sushi rice)
- 1 tsp baharat or all spice
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1-2 tomatoes diced
- 1/4 c chopped parsley
- 1/4 c chopped dill
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- Optional: 1 lb ground beef, browned and cooked with 1 onion, salt and pepper, and baharat
- 1/2 c marinara sauce, such as Prego
- 1/2 c water
- 1/2 c lemon juice
- 1 tsp dry mint
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp baharat or all spice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Peel and score the large onion to slice it open halfway. This will allow you to peel away the soft layers later. Simmer in boiling water for about 5-10 minutes until the onion layers are malleable enough to stuff with filling and roll. Do not over cook it so that it is too soft as it will cook more later in the pot. Set aside to cool.
- Wash the zucchinis, peppers, and eggplants and cut off the tops. Core out the center of the eggplants and zucchinis and reuse the inner flesh for another recipe such as baba ghanough or zucchini bread.
- Combine all ingredients for the stuffing.
- Fill each vegetable halfway with the stuffing, as it will increase in size as it cooks. For the onions, peel off a layer of the onion, fill with a teaspoon of stuffing, and roll tightly.
- Neatly place each vegetable into a pot, standing upright to prevent the stuffing from spilling out as it cooks. If you will bake in a baking dish, laying the vegetables down will be fine as they will not be disturbed by boiling liquid.
- Combine all the ingredients for the sauce and mix well. Pour over all the vegetables and pour olive oil on the very top of the pot. Simmer on medium high heat, and turn the heat down to low once it boils. Cover halfway with a lid and remove from heat once the rice in the center is tender (about 20-25 minutes). If baking in the oven, bake at 350 degrees, for 35 minutes.
- It is important that the rice in the vegetables is covered with cooking sauce in order for it to cook well. Potatoes, tomatoes, and other vegetables may be used in this recipe as well but using zucchini and eggplant is the traditional way to prepare this dish.
- You may also substitute the rice for quinoa or bulgur to make this dish a little healthier and contain less carbs!
Tabbouli is my absolute favorite salad! If you have not tried it yet, you simply must! It is so fresh with the bold lemon and parsley flavors. The texture is delicate with tiny perfectly diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and bulgur. In this variation I boost the […]
When I saw Giada making these on TV I knew it would be a hit in my family. I never eat regular chicken salad or tuna salad because I strongly dislike mayonnaise and other processed condiments heavy in preservatives. This chicken salad is a genius […]
This dip is SO flavorful, zesty, and delicious! Roasted eggplant, fresh garlic, lemon juice and a dash of tahini sauce are what make up this delicious spread. Traditionally the eggplant is charred or grilled first to impart a smoky flavor, and some people use some of the roasted and charred skin to infuse more smokiness to this dip. But I do not prefer the smoky flavor so completely omitted the charring step. If this is something you like, you could easily do this step first by charring on a grill or resting over the flame of a gas range. Baba Ghanouj is usually mashed, with some texture to it. I love mine smooth and velvety and how my Vitamix completely incinerates the seeds (which have healthful enzymes!), but you could reserve some of the eggplant flesh and mash it into the puree at the end to leave some texture, if you prefer. Drizzle with olive oil and paprika powder and serve with pita bread.
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- 1 large eggplant
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 1/2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- pinch of cayenne (optional)
- 4 large cloves of garlic (or more!)
- Wash the eggplant, cut a slit down the side, and place on a pan to roast in the oven. Place in middle rack of the oven at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Eggplant will begin to collapse and shrivel. Remove once a knife easily slides into the flesh and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- With a large spoon, scrape out all the flesh and scoop into a blender or processor. Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and optional cayenne pepper.
- Pulse to incorporate all ingredients, then puree for about 45 seconds on high (this way you do not encounter any seeds). If you prefer a chunkier texture, first puree the garlic, seasoning and tahini until smooth then pulse in the eggplant to desired consistency.
- Spoon onto a serving platter, smoothing the top. Use a butter knife to draw a line down the center or in a circular swirl, depending on desired pattern and shape of the serving dish. Drizzle olive oil on top and it will settle where you "carved" a line into the dip. Sprinkle some paprika, and garnish with parsley.
- Serve with pita bread and enjoy!