If you knew the kind of things I’ve been eating the past ten days, you’d be appalled. After I made the Moroccan chicken and olives dish a couple weeks ago, I carefully set aside some left overs and packed up my entire life into a 14-foot U-Haul. After that, my will to cook was nowhere to be found. I’m sure it was hidden somewhere behind the fortress of boxes that consumed my new apartment, but, for the time being, I was happy with my daily bowls of cereal and occasional sandwiches. A diet devoid of fruits and vegetables – like I said, appalled.
In t-minus 3 days, all my things should be in boxes, ideally, and ready for my big move. Except I know myself. I know that in 3 days, I’m going to look at my room, or my kitchen, in dismay and ask myself what in the world I’ve been doing. Something my mother would ask in the most disapproving of voices. This is when I would blame youtube for my perpetual procrastination, and thank Warda for her amazing chicken and olives recipe. If you need a break from anything, life, packing, the economy?, turn up your speakers and listen to this song. If you’re hungry afterwards, do what I did, and make this incredible North African chicken and olives recipe (aka دجاج بالزيتون). Everything else can wait.
Spanish tapas have been on my mind ever since I made those croquetas the other day. They were a hit in the house and the leftovers treated me well (at least while they lasted). Once the last croqueta was gone though, my stomach went into what I’ve come to call, “pregnant woman mode.” Pregnant women may claim to have it bad, but a foodie-craving is no joking matter. I wanted more tapas, stat.
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.