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Glasses filled with wine, bursts of laughter, plenty of food to nibble on – this, to me, is the Mediterranean way of life. Even though there is no way I can convince my boss to let me take a siesta in the middle of the day, I can still lead a Med lifestyle vicariously through the food I make. This month I’m entering Jenn’s popular Royal Foodie Joust, where bloggers have to strategically incorporate three featured ingredients into their entries. Kittie, last month’s winner, chose to feature whole grains, ginger and citrus. YUM!

mise en place
mise en place

I decided to make a traditional Middle Eastern salad called Tabbouleh alongside citrus-marinated swordfish spedini (Italian word for skewers).  I snuck some grated ginger into the swordfish marinade, used bulgur wheat in the salad and incorporated citrus into both dishes.

parsley bouquet
parsley bouquet

In order to get most of the leaves from the parsley (and not a lot of the tough stems) you want to bundle little bouquets of parsley and mince the leaves ultra fine with your sharpest knife. I remember for large social events and holidays, all the women in my family would gather in the kitchen to chop mountains of parsley and exchange juicy gossip. 

lemon juice + olive oil dressing
tabbouleh dressing

Now that we’re on the subject of Tabbouleh, I want clear up the common misconception that Tabbouleh should have only a tiny bit of parsley and a TON of bulgur wheat – NO! The only reason many (non-authentic) restaurants go heavy on the bulgur is because it’s a lot cheaper and quicker than chopping up all that parsley. And don’t try to whip out your fancy food processor here… nope, it’ll only make parsley pesto and that’s a totally different post.

swordfish skewer
swordfish skewer

When it comes to fish, I don’t like to overdo it with too many harsh herbs and spices. I purposefully chose a combo of clean flavors – specifically, basil, mint, lemon & orange zest, ginger, olive oil, salt & pepper. Let them all mingle in the fridge for a couple hours before throwing the fish on the grill. 

swordfish spedini, tabbouleh & olives
swordfish spedini, tabbouleh & olives

Next time you want to take a break from life and jet off to the Mediterranean, invite friends over for some tapas, mezze, antipasti, whatever you want to call it (small food?) and open a nice bottle of wine. It’s lots of fun and definitely my preferred way to host. Spread the Med LOVE!

tabbouleh salad
tabbouleh salad


yields approx 10 small servings


  • 3 cups parsley, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp bulgur, fine-ground*
  • 2 tbsp water, lukewarm
  • 1 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • ½ qt. cherry tomatoes
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 ml lemon juice (approx 1/2 cup)
  • ¼ cup mint, minced
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • salt, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Soak the bulgur in lukewarm water (until all the water is absorbed).
  2. Finely mince parsley with a sharp knife (make sure parsley is completely dry before chopping)
  3. Prepare the rest of the vegetables by chopping them as well (they don’t need to be as finely minced as the parsley). 
  4. At this point you could store everything in the refrigerator (well covered) for up to a day.
  5. To assemble, toss soaked bulgur wheat, minced parsley and prepped vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice and spices together and pour over salad.
  6. Wash some hearts of romaine to serve alongside the tabbouleh and enjoy!

* My supermarket carries fine-ground (aka #1 ground) bulgur in the bulk and ethnic isles, but if yours doesn’t, Dayna’s Market will gladly deliver.


swordfish spedini
swordfish spedini

Swordfish Spedini

yields approx. 10 small skewers


  • 1.25 lbs swordfish
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1 orange, zest
  • 2 tbsp ginger, grated
  • basil, chopped
  • mint, chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Soak bamboo skewers in water.
  2. Cut swordfish into 1 inch cubes
  3. Marinade with the rest of the ingredients in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  4. Skewer the cubes and grill (or broil) for a couple minutes on each side.  Until the inside is no longer translucent. 
  5. Serve with lemon wedges

notes If you can’t find swordfish, you can make this dish with any hearty fish that can hold up being skewered and grilled. Tuna is a great fish that comes to mind.  Measurements for the marinade don’t have to be exact, just use what you’ve got.  


Posted in appetizers, Italian, recipe, savory by Antonio Tahhan on August 20th, 2008. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

23 Responses to “Med LOVE”

Raquel Says:

I had one of the skewers at room temp. for breakfast and it was delicious! Def. held me over until my croissant at the Dupont farmer’s market!

Christina Says:

Words cannot even begin to describe how hungry I am now!

Poonam Says:

Hey Tony, its my first time here! You have such a lovely blog here!

Katie Says:

That looks delicious! Tabbouleh is one of my favorite med dishes especially when it’s not overpowered by a ton of the bulgar wheat.

sharon Says:

My husband doesn’t share my obsession with Mediterranean food so we don’t have it enough. I suppose I’ll just have to make it on my own – these are great recipes!

Meeta Says:

Tony, this looks spectacular. Swordfish is a lovely fish and so versatile – but best when grilled. Perfect Tony!

Adam Says:

Tony, dude, this looks awesome! Swordfish is an absolute favorite of mine, and I love the citrus marinade. Thanks for the tip on the tabbelouh, I just thought people liked their grains way too much. Never thought about price 🙂

HoneyB Says:

This looks delish Tony! I love swordfish!

Maggie Says:

Great looking pictures! I like idea of serving the tabbouleh in lettuce leaves.

Hélène Says:

Hi Tony, I’m glad I discovered your blog because we share the same passion for Mediterranean cuisine. Can’t wait to see what you are going to come up with. I’ll be following you.

Bren@Flanboyant Eats Says:

ahhh. ur soo cute. thanks for the the entire comment in Spanish! I had no idea you were that fluent! We do make great food don’t we!!?! As for the caja china, I STILL don’t eat pork so I have no real need for one, though I would like to own eventually when I have a house big enough to store it in…we’ve made one at my parents’ house which was a traumatic experience for me! lol! it’s such a Cuban thing to do! Thanks for watching the epi. E is great but of course he made me look like he’s teaching ME how to make Cuban food!?!?! Go figure!

Love the tabbouleh by the way. One of my all time faves Med food; well that an falafel! I don’t get Med food at all in ATL, but I used to feast on it for lunch all the time when I worked in DC–a great gastronomically robust city

joey Says:

Both dishes look so delicious! I like to serve “little bites”…easy and eanjoyable for everyone 🙂

Alejandra Says:

This looks wonderful. I love all things med. And such beautiful presentation!

Hélène Says:

Hi Tony,

I’m back. This is my blog address:

Cookthink: Five Things To Eat Outside This Weekend Says:

[…] Looking for something a little less traditional for your picnic basket? I recommend tabbouleh — especially if you’ve still got a truckload of […]

Jen Yu Says:

Oooh, beeee-yooooo-teeee-ful! I hope I’m invited to your parties because you make fantastic food! Delicious 🙂 xxoo

Kate Says:

The fish spedini ( we just call’em kebabs :p)looks gr8 ! swordfish is a beautiful fish to grill due to is chuncy white flesh, holds shape n doesnt break down. I can almost imagine all those lovely zesty flavours in there. When i make tabbouleh, even i put far more veggies n herbs that the grain itself.

Chris Says:

Another thank-you for not overpowering the tabbouleh with too much bulgur!

My Sweet & Saucy Says:

This spread looks amazing! What a fun party menu!

Antonio Tahhan Says:

Raquel: I can’t believe that was last week… let’s go again today?

Christina: If only swordfish and Tabbouleh would fedex more easily….

Poonam: Thanks for stopping by!

Katie: amen to that… hopefully restaurants will follow suit and add less bulgur

Sharon: Oh, no! Hopefully he’ll come around eventually… if not, leftover mediterranean isn’t too bad (I wish I had some now, actually…)

Meeta: I think we have identical taste buds. pistachios… swordfish… I wonder what else 🙂

Adam: swordfish is amazing, isn’t it?! Haha, perhaps some people like the taste of grains that much… but when restaurants do it they’re definitely skimping 🙂

HoneyB: Thanks! I had no idea there were so many swordfish fans out there

Maggie: Thanks! It’s traditional to serve this salad with huge hearts of Romaine…. I chose tiny ones because they’re easier to eat and they look better, too.

Hélène: Awesome! Welcome and I can’t wait to check out your blog as well!

Bren: haha, I was born in Venezuela 🙂 I’ll have to feature falafel soon, it’s also one of my faves!

Joey: thanks! “little bites” are my favorite because then I don’t have to deal with slicing, plating, portioning, etc… during the party

Thanks Alejandra 🙂

Hélène: awesome, thanks!

Jen: aw, of course – you’re always invited 🙂

Kate: oh, I was so tempted to just call them kabobs, haha. I used to put cucumbers in my tabbouleh but then I was scolded by my grandmother 🙁

Chris: I try my best 🙂

My Sweet & Saucy: Thanks!

Dana Says:

Wow – I’ve never been here before, came over out of curiosity about the DB hosts. You have some of the best food photography I’ve ever seen! Brilliant!

Mrs Ergül Says:

Gorgeous looking fish!

kittie Says:

I absolutely love this entry – exactly my kind of flavours!

Also loving the blog – I’m glad you joined the joust so I found it 😀 Great pics and recipes

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