Med LOVE

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 chop the leaves ultra fine with your sharpest knife. Growing up, I remember 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 (تبولة), I want clear up the common misconception that tabbouleh should have only have some parsley and lots of bulgur wheat – NO! The reason many restaurants go heavy on the bulgur is because it’s a lot cheaper and easier than chopping up all that parsley. And don’t try to use your fancy food processor… nope, it’ll only make parsley pesto and that’s a completely 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

Tabbouleh

yields approx 6-8 servings

Components

  • 4 cups parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp bulgur, fine-ground*
  • 1 bunch of scallions, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • salt, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Wash herbs under cold water, drain, and wrap in a kitchen towel to dry.
  2. Soak the bulgur in 2 Tbsp of water.
  3. Finely chop herbs with a sharp knife (make sure everything is dry before chopping). Finely dice the tomatoes.
  4. At this point you could store everything in the refrigerator (well covered) for up to a day.
  5. To assemble, toss all the ingredients in a large bowl with the lemon juice and olive oil.
  6. Serve with hearts of romaine for added crunch (the small leaves towards the center are the best).

* Notes: Most Mediterranean markets or health food stores will carry fine bulgur (#1 grind). Use the sharpest knife possible and make sure herbs are dry before chopped to avoid the leaves from bruising.

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swordfish spedini
swordfish spedini

Swordfish Spedini

yields approx. 10 small skewers

Components

  • 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.

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23 thoughts on “Med LOVE

  1. 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!

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

  3. 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!

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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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