Tag Archives: Lebanese

Ashy Family Tabbouleh Salad

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Ingredients

3 cup cooked quinoa (1 cup dry)

1.5 – 2 cup finely chopped parsley

1 tomato

4 green onions

3 sprigs of mint (15-20 leaves)

1 1/2 lemons

2 tbs olive oil

1/4 tsp sea salt

3 pinches of cayenne pepper

Equipment

Mortar and Pestle aka “Knocker” (wooden preferably)

Large salad bowl

* double all ingredients for a larger batch

Method

  1. Cook and cool the quinoa. Once quinoa is cooled, add to large salad bowl. You can either cook the quinoa the night before, or you can cook it and cool it in the fridge while preparing the other ingredients
  2. Wash parsley, onions, tomatoes and mint
  3. Start chopping vegetables. I start with the parsley – cut stems off as close to the leaf as possible. Do this in handful sizes. Bunch the parsley up and chop finely. It usually requires a horizontal and vertical chop to get it to a fine consistency. You can use flat or curly parsley; curly parsley is quicker and easier. Once chopped, chuck into your quinoa in a large salad bowl *see note below
  4. Chop onions (white and green) and tomatoes quite finely and add to quinoa
  5. Remove mint leaves from stem and chop. Add to the knocker with pinch of coarse salt. Knock and mash the mint with considerable pressure until you get a paste consistency. The coarse salt helps to grind the mint down into a paste. This usually takes 60 seconds of firm knocking and mixing
  6. Squeeze juice from lemons and add to the mint paste along with salt, pepper and olive oil Mix together well then pour over quinoa. Mix well
  7. Serve chilled in lettuce wraps
  8. Voila!

Example of how finely to chop tomatoes, onions and parsley

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Growing up in a Lebanese family, in south Louisiana, is quite a unique experience. My great-grandparents left their country in the early 1900’s and migrated to the southern parts of America. They chose the south because they were Christian, and they were French speaking. South Louisiana offered a home to both of those attributes. We southern Lebanese descendants now proudly refer to ourselves as Leba-Cajuns because of the rich cultural experience we received growing up in Acadiana Parish. Cooking, eating and drinking shaped our existence.

My mother’s father was Lebanese and her mother was French, so my mom grew up with a predominately Cajun-Creole cuisine. When my mom married into the Ashy family, she was taught through the generations the recipes of the Old Country. My mom was a great student and an even better teacher. I’m so grateful to my mom for teaching us that nothing tastes quite as good as food prepared in your own kitchen.

Traditionally, Tabbouleh is made with number 2 medium grind bulgur wheat. My ancestors might not approve, but I substitute bulgar wheat with quinoa. Quinoa much improves the nutritional value of the dish, and I actually prefer the taste. Quinoa is one of the few plant foods containing all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein, which makes this version of Tabbouleh a well balanced vegetarian salad providing essential fat, protein and carbohydrates.

I make Tabbouleh at least once a fortnight. The girls taste it & Number 1 likes it more & more. Number 2 still struggles to chew leaves, especially parsley, but she will get there. And so, the Lebanese tradition continues to be passed down through generations – with food this tasty and healthy, how could it not!

Additional Notes

Chopping parsley is the most time consuming part of the preparation. It’s worth taking the time to hand chop, so maybe plan to make this salad on a weekend. However, being a realist as well as a busy mom, I have many times chucked the parsley in a food processor and whizzed it up in seconds. If you do this, make sure not to over process; otherwise, you will end up with soggy parsley.

Enjoy!

  

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Baba ghanoush

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Ingredients

2 aubergine / eggplant

1 tbsp chopped onion

1.5 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp lemon

2-3 pinches of salt

 

Method

  1. Chargrill or Bake
  2. Chargrill: under an open flame and grill until the meat is soft and the skin can be peeled off easily. Continue to turn the aubergine to make sure it grills on all sides.
  3. Bake: cut in half and bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 375F, 190C, gas 5 (see note below)
  4. Once cooked, peel off the skin, let the aubergine rest for 10 minutes in a colander. This will drain some of the juice and reduce the bitterness. (No need for this step if you’ve chosen to bake)
  5. Peel the aubergine off the stem and mash using a wooden spoon
  6. Add chopped onion, juice of lemon, salt and mix (for a thin consistency, blend)

This dip can be spread on rice cakes, eaten with carrots, cucumber, apple or as I like to eat it, on its own with a spoon. The wonderful chargrilled flavor of the dip leaves no question in the mouth that it is homemade. My girls are not massive fans of baba ghanoush, but each time I make it, they will have a little more. I shall persevere, as introducing them to the recipes and flavors of my Lebanese ancestry is very important to me.

Additional Notes: 

If you’re going to bake the eggplant then cut the eggplant in half and soak in salted water for 15-20 minutes to remove the bitterness. I bake and grill – depending on the flavor I want and the time I have. The girls prefer it baked.

Enjoy!

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