Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mediterranean Tabbouleh

Today is a goregous warm blue bird day here in Steamboat Springs. My Husband is spring skiing with Isabella and Jeremiah and I am at home with sweet baby Olivia, who is currently napping. On days like today when you get a taste of Spring in the air I start to crave light fresh food. The kind of food you eat in summertime. And today, even though I have already eaten lunch myself, I wish I had had this Greek style salad becuase it's so dang good! So even though it is too late for me, maybe it is not for you. In which case I suggest you get yourself to a store pronto becuase this recipe is too good to pass up.

This creation is kind of my own taken from two different recipes and put together to create something so delicious it's ridiculas. The first recipe I ran across in the smitten kitchen website. It was for a "Mediterranean Pepper Salad" and becuase of the name (I don't know why I didn't care for the name) I almost passed it up, but then I saw the picture. The picture of this salad was goregous with every color of the rainbow. You eat first with your eyes, it's true. The recipe was especially intriguing to me becuase once I started to read it I saw that you sort of pickle the red onions in a red wine vinager mixture while you prep the other ingredients and it helps to flavor them and also soften their blow. It's genius if you ask me and makes all the difference.

I decided to pair this salad with bulger wheat to make it a tabbouleh. Tabbouleh, for any of you who are not familliar is bulger wheat, which is a grain cooked and mixed with any variety of vegetables and herbs to create a salad. I cook my bulger wheat the same way Ina Garten does with water, lemon juice, olive oil and salt for lots of good flavor. If you have never seen or heard of bulger wheat before it's a whole grain and it kind of looks like cous cous...kind of. It's in the normal grocery store and you have probably just passed it by. Sad thing becuase it's delicious and nutritious once you know what to do with it. Paired with this pepper sald it's flavor its outta this world. Pardon me if I just sounded like Paula Deen.

Mediterranean Tabbouleh Salad

for the bulger wheat:

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup bulger wheat
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

In a heat proof bowl (preferably just big enough to hold the bulger wheat and water becuase if you use a big bowl it doesn't cook all the way because it can't hold it's heat) pour the boiling water over the bulger wheat. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and salt. let stand at room temperature for about an hour.

For the Mediterranean Pepper Salad

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 a red onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 bell peppers, your choice of colors (I use one red, orange and yellow)
1 cucumber, preferably English, cut into quarters lengthwise and diced
1/4 pound firm feta cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup pitted kalmata olives, cut in half
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half (optional)I personally like this without
1/4 cup olive oil ( I use less)
salt and peper to taste

Swish together the red wine vinegar , water, kosher salt and sugar in a small bowl until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the red onion and set it aside.

Meanwhile, time to practice your knife skills. Core and seed your bell peppers and chop them into 1/2 inch pieces. Chop the cucumber and feta into similarly-sized chunks. Put your peppers, cucumber, feta and olives in a large bowl.

By now your onions will have lightly pickled, both sweetening and softening their blow. Drain them and add them to the other vegetables in the large bowl, but reserve the vinegar mixtire. Pour a quarter cup of the vinegar mixture over the salad, then drizzle with olive oil. Add your cooked tabbouleh and toss together, taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve at once, or let the flavors muddle together in the fridge for a few hours. This salad gets better and better. It's as great the third day as it is the first.

I don't love tomatoes. Actually I loathe tomatoes for the most part and that is why I don't add them in. Let me explain. When I was little I used to eat raw sliced tomatoes with garlic salt on them. One day I got sick after eating them and the rest is history. The mealy texture of most tomaotes are enough to send me over the edge. My hatred only extends to raw tomatoes in their purist form. Cooked, roasted or tomato sauce do not bother me at all. Love tomatoes? Add them in!

By the way. I didn't finish this blog yesterday when I originally started writting it, so guess what I am making right now as I type? That's right, Iv'e got my onions pickeling and am going to enjoy this salad for lunch. I can't wait!