Buying my first house was a huge step. The experience was filled with a thrill, panic, and excitement that I’ll never forget! I shared some horror stories in my last post, but homeownership has its upsides. I bought a historic row home from the late 1800s with beautiful exposed brick and a charm that makes me happy to come home.
It is difficult to write about my experiences in Syria knowing that the country is on the brink of civil war and chaos. It breaks my heart. I also realize that not writing anything won’t necessarily make things better, either. And giving up on my blog — the thing that used to bring me so much happiness — is the last thing I want to do.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
yields approx 6-8 servings
- 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
- Wash herbs under cold water, drain, and wrap in a kitchen towel to dry.
- Soak the bulgur in 2 Tbsp of water.
- Finely chop herbs with a sharp knife (make sure everything is dry before chopping). Finely dice the tomatoes.
- At this point you could store everything in the refrigerator (well covered) for up to a day.
- To assemble, toss all the ingredients in a large bowl with the lemon juice and olive oil.
- 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.
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
- Soak bamboo skewers in water.
- Cut swordfish into 1 inch cubes
- Marinade with the rest of the ingredients in the fridge for a couple of hours.
- Skewer the cubes and grill (or broil) for a couple minutes on each side. Until the inside is no longer translucent.
- 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.
Aside from not having stable internet for an entire week, nothing irks me more than to have to deal with the providers to come fix the problem. The customer “care” service probably qualifies as some sort of psychological warfare/torture; what with the annoying elevator music loops during hold and the machine constantly reminding you, “you’re call will be answered in the order it was received, please hold for the next available representative.” It’s enough to make any sane person go mad!
This entry is dedicated to Karen, my brunch-loving friend who will always have a soft spot for Oreos!
Has anyone else noticed this? Cardamom is everywhere now; in blogs, recipe books and other food-driven media. For centuries, Middle Easterners used this unassuming pod to flavor teas, coffees and the occasional desserts. Now, the humble cardamom pod has been given the 90210-celebrity treatment and is making its way to pantries around the world. If you need to see it to believe it, you could check out these blogs featuring delicious cardamom Christmas cookies and cardamom roasted cauliflower for yourself.