I was sitting on my balcony, chilling, looking at my vegetables and thinking what to prepare for lunch. That gorgeous green mint caught my eye and made me think of something… It’s been almost 10 years now, since I visited France for the first time. It must have been then that I’ve fallen in love with it… Anyway, I was staying with a family in Antibes, in the south. Tabbouleh was le plat de resistance. Every day. Every lunch. It was more or less a cous-cous salad with some tomatoes, raisins and mint. To be honest, I was not a big fan. It was something I’ve never had in my life before. But, years pass by and you get wiser… and you travel (now a visit to a local Lebanese is practically a must on all my trips), returning at home, hoping that one day you’ll be able to sit down in an restaurant ordering some hummus, falafels and tabouleh in your home town. And one day when you return, your wish comes true. Mezze.
Tabbouleh comes from Middle Eastern cuisine and is usually served as mezze. It’s fresh, healthy and really easy to make in the summer. The real thing is actually lots of mint and parsley, tomatoes, some onions, sprinkeled with lemon and some bulgur. Yes, sprinkeled with bulgur.
My recipe is a mix of everything. Cranberries and pistachios came across when I was staying in Canada. And bulgur is so much healthier than cous-cous. It’s not that common to use it at our place, but you should definitely be using it more. Bulgur is cracked durum wheat and is considered wholegrain, so rich in fibre and has approx. 10% of protein. It is made by cooking the wheat, drying it, partially removing bran and craking it. This actually means that there is no need to cook it. You can just soak it and drain when soften.
So, serve it with one of these beauties plus some grilled vegetables. And you’ve got yourself a real feast!
- 250 g bulgur
- 350 g cherry tomatoes
- 2 big handfuls cranberries (or raisins)
- 150 g salted pistachios in shell
- 20 g mint leaves or more
- 15 g parsley
- 1 small spring onion
- juice of 1,5 lemon
- 1 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar.
- olive oil. lots of it.
- Cook bulgur according to instructions. Do not overcook. Let cool completely.
- Chop mint leaves, parsley and spring onions. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Remove pistachios from the shelves and chop roughly.
- Add lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and lots of olive oil to cooled bulgur. Mix in pistachios, cranberries, chopped herbs and spring onions. Salt according to taste and mix. At the end mix in cherry tomatoes and serve.
Last weekend was the official barbecue season opening at our house. And we had a good reason for it. We were celebrating the release of a new album of a band my dad plays at. Demolition group. I was growing up with the band and their music, but never considered them like big stars. They were more of a family. I think it was not until I’ve grown up (hope my dad won’t be reading this. lol) that I realised how significant actually is what they are doing.
It was a lovely day, we had great time and we ate well.
Usually there’s a lot of meat when you organise a barbecue. Luckily I was not the only vegetarian and there was abandonce of meat free dishes. As far as I’m concerned, the best concept for a barbecue is to follow the mezze principle, as I call it. Small, fresh, colorful sides that accompany the main thing, so that everyone is satisfied, veggie and meat lovers. I was thinking, what would go best with grilled vegetables and came up with these three easy and delicious dips:
Greek yoghurt with lemon, mint and black olive paste
- 1 kg greek yoghurt
- peel of 5 organic lemons
- 1 – 2 tsp salt
- mint leaves
- 80 g black olives
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
For this recipe you will need a cheesecloth
- Drain greek yoghurt: put cheesecloth into a strainer and place over a large bowl into which you will collect excess water from yoghurt. Pour in your greek yoghurt, put into the fridge for at least a day. The longer it drains the firmer it gets.
- The next day, mix drained yoghurt with salt and peel of 4 organic lemons.
- Mix olives and olive oil and grind into a paste using a mortar or food processor. You can also leave larger pieces of olives.
- Put the lemon yoghurt into a larger bowl, garnish with black olive paste. Grate zest of 1 lemon and sprinkle with fresh mint leaves. Sprinkle with olive oil.
Chickpea, roasted red peppers and walnut dip
- 10 -12 long red peppers
- 1 can chickpea
- 2 handfuls of walnuts or pecans
- 1 garlic clove
- 6 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 – 2 tsp salt
- garnish: feta, coriander or parsley leaves, olive oil
- Oven roast peppers at 200°C until soft and well grilled. You can also barbecue them. Let cool and remove the skins.
- Put skinned peppers, drained chickpeas, walnuts or pecans, garlic, lemon juice, ground coriander and salt into a food processor and mix into a smooth paste.
- Garnish with crumbled feta, fresh herbs and sprinkle with olive oil.
White bean and almond butter hummus
- 1 can white beans
- 3 big Tbsp almond butter (you can also replace it with 3 handfuls of almonds)
- 1 small tsp salt
- 6 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3 – 4 Tbsp water
- ½ garlic clove
- 1 tsp cumin (Cuminum cyminum) – optional
- garnish: avocado, olive oil, cranberries or pomegranate, sesame
- Make almond butter: you will need at least 400 g almonds. Mix them in a food processor or a blender at highest speed until oils get to separate and grounded almonds turn into a smooth butter. You can substitute almond butter by 3 handfuls of almonds, but the consistency will be less smooth.
- Put all the ingredients into a food processor and mix into a smooth paste at the highest speed. Add water according to the thickness you prefer.
- Garnish with slices of avocado, pieces of cranberries or pomegranate, sesame and sprinkle with olive oil.
Be good! Enjoy in sunny days!
DG – U tvojim očima