Today was a special day in the kitchen. My beautiful niece Kalani was my sous chef for the day. We were working on a project for her HUG class, otherwise known as human geography. I remember it as social studies, but I guess I am dating myself though. Her project was to make some ethnic food to share with her class and write a report on it. I did this for my students too way back when I taught 2nd grade, many moons ago. We decided to make dishes that could either be served cold or at room temperature. Plus she is vegan, and since she was the one doing all the work, we wanted to make something she could enjoy as well. We decided on tabbouleh and hummus with baked pita chips. She did a great job. She can be my sous chef anytime she wants. Besides it gives us time to have a little fun together as well.
My Sous Chef Kalani hard at work, making her tabbouleh.
Every good chef has to sample their end results.
Kalani displaying her tabbouleh.
And her hummus.
I wish I didn’t have to be in this one, but that was part of the assignment. The Chef had to be in at least one picture with the Sous Chef. So if her teacher has to see it, I guess all of you do too. It’s only fair. My apologies. Just focus on Kalani and her dishes, not me.
Tabbouleh is a dish found all throughout the Arabic countries and the Mediterranean. It is a very essential part of any classic mezze spread. Traditionally, it used to be only made by and eaten by women. Today though, this has changed. This dish is very healthy and low calorie and is eaten by everyone. Here in the United States, we serve it with pita bread and hummus, but in the Middle East, it is usually eaten wrapped either in lettuce or grape leaves. Every region has its own version. Some versions have more cous cous and others have more parsley. Some use cumin, others don’t. As with all of my dishes, make it how you like it and enjoy.
4 cups finely chopped parsley
3 tomatoes, small dice
1 red onion, chopped fine
3 TBSP fresh mint, chopped fine
salt & pepper to taste
2/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup cooked bulgar wheat or cous cous (I used cous cous)
1 heaping TBSP garlic
toasted pine nuts (optional. I love pine nuts, so I always use them when making tabbouleh).
Toss everything together and serve either chilled or at room temperature.
Hummus is another essential dish found in any mezze spread. We used canned garbonzo beans or chick peas rather than the dried beans. It is a huge time saver, and the boiling time can make or break how your hummus turns out. Besides the boiling time, you must be fearless with your use of garlic and lemon juice. Make it as bold as you dare.
2 cans garbonzo beans, drained and rinsed or you use and can cook the dried ones if you prefer
2/3 cups tahini (sesame paste)
1 cup lemon juice or to taste
5 cloves minced garlic or to taste
salt to taste
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more to drizzle on top
chopped parsley, paprika and/or cumin for topping (optional)
Put everything together in the food processor and blend well until everything is smooth and creamy. Top with parsley, paprika and/or cumin and drizzle with a little additional olive oil.
Baked Pita Chips
I cut pita bread in triangles and coated with olive oil, then I baked them at 350* F for about 15-20 minutes, turning them over half way.