Showing posts with label Lebanese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lebanese. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Organic Quinoa Tabbouleh

Okay, I'll admit it - I'm about 5 years late to jump on the Quinoa train.  Regardless, I get it.  What was once the 'super food' of celebrities, trainers, and athletes is now quite commonly found at big-box grocers alongside rice and pasta.

For those living a gluten / vegetarian lifestyle, it should classify as a super food.  It's low caloric content (about 200 cals for 1 cup of cooked grains), low glycemic index (about 18 on a scale to 250), and high protein make this combination rare for just a simple grain.  

Most assume Quinoa comes from the Orient - yet it actually originates from South America - it was prized by ancient cultures including the Incas.

Okay, that's enough for nutrition and history.

Tabbouleh has always been a staple in my family.  I can remember a lone package of Bulgar wheat sitting in our pantry for when it came time to prepare this sacred dish.  Since I was hosting a few folks who are gluten free for dinner - I decided to turn to the media's darling - Quinoa.

You know what - damn - it's tasty.  It also worked really well in this dish.

Since I wasn't keeping traditional, I also added in a bit of feta and chopped kalamatas to give this salad a bit more heft and bulk - it made for a nice addition.

Be sure to make a bit more too - it just gets better with time - put a little away before you serve to enjoy as a quick and healthy leftover lunch.



Organic Quinoa Tabbouleh (Prep 10 mins, Cook 20 mins, Serves 6)

For the Quinoa
1 Cup Organic Quinoa Grains

1 Pinch Salt
1 Glug EVOO

In a pot over high heat, combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water - add salt and oil.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, fluff with fork, and allow quinoa to cool to room temp.  TIP:  You can spread the hot quinoa out into a single layer on a baking sheet and pop it in the freezer to speed up the process.

Put it all together
Cooked Quinoa (see above), about 2 cups
3 Cloves Garlic, minced

2 Cups Parsley Leaves, finely chopped
2 Vine Ripe Tomatoes, finely diced

1 Cucumber, finely diced
1/4 Red Onion, finely diced
1/4 Cup Green Onion Tops, finely sliced
1/4 Cup Feta Cheese
1/4 Cup Kalamata Olives, chopped
2 Lemons, juiced
1/4 Cup EVOO
1 1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice

Combine all ingredients into a serving bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.  Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary.  Allow to sit for 1 hour to meld flavors before serving.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Beef Kebabs

Kebabs - ready for the grill!
I've always been a fan of summertime grilling, especially when skewering up chunks of meat and vegetables and placing them over an open flame.  For me, there's nothing better than a summer evening spent feasting on roasted meat and charred vegetables.

I had that craving yesterday - coming off 80 degree weather and blue skies.  I went to the store and picked up some top sirloin filets, onion, sweet peppers, and all of the other necessary ingredients to pull off a tried and true family recipe.

My grandmother passed this recipe along to my mom, and though it's seen some variations through the years, every time I make up this marinade it makes me think of being in her old house.  It's funny how smells and tastes can transport us back to another place far back in our memory.  Fortunately, they are always good memories for me.

In Lebanese tradition, I like using plenty of fresh garlic, allspice, lemon juice, mint, and even a dash of cinnamon to my steak kebab.  The flavors are bold, timeless, and delicious.

As summer approaches, give this a try the next time you are considering cooking hamburgers or hotdogs.   Trust me - your guests (and you) will be happy.

Lebanese Style Beef Kebabs
(Prep 15 minutes, Marinate 3 - 4 hours, Cook 15 minutes, Serves 4)

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 Lemon, juiced
10 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint, chopped

2 lbs Top Sirloin Filets, cut into chunks
1 Large Red Onion, cut into chunkcs
Assorted Sweet Peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
3 Pinches Red Pepper Flakes

1 Teaspoon Allspice
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Add all ingredients to a zip-lock bag and marinate for 3 - 4 hours in the fridge, or overnight.  Preheat grill over medium high heat.  Skewer ingredients evenly on metal or bamboo skewers (soak prior to using).  Place skewers over direct heat, grilling for 2 - 3 minutes on each side for medium.  Remove and rest for 5 minutes prior to serving.  Serve.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Last week I was catching up with an old friend over cocktails at The Patterson House in Nashville, TN.  If you haven't been - go - order the Brown Derby (not on the menu).  In our discussion, he mentioned that he was driving into to the office that morning when the following thought entered his mind . . . what if I kept on driving?  Took a day off.  Took a week off.  Traveled the world.

Besides the obvious fears of losing his spot on the corporate ladder or running out of money - I didn't have that great of an answer to keep him from just doing it.  Well, until he mentioned he had a 10 o'clock conference call that was "the most important call of his career".  Really?  Turns out the call really wasn't that epic or life changing.

All of us are guilty.  We make goals to reach our destination, without enjoying the journey.  Part of what makes us successful is being uncommon - working harder than the rest and sacrificing our time, energy, and talents to a cause greater than ourselves.  For some it's a pipe dream to drop everything and follow a whim, a passion, or a dream.  For others, that's exactly what brought them happiness - and most often, success.

I get it - I'm supposed to be talking about food.

When I was younger, I never understood why restaurants were able to charge such exorbitant prices for food that was - at best - on par with what I could get at home.  "You are paying for the experience/atmosphere" was the constant response.  It wasn't until I was much older that I finally "got it".  It's nice to be able to walk into a restaurant that's different than my home environment - to get lost in the sights, smells, and tastes without splurging on a plane ticket or hotel room.

Food has the ability to transform.  A taste, smell, or meal can remind us of childhood, a favorite trip, or even an unpleasant experience - it's truly one of those things that can make our senses run wild.

Most of us don't have the luxury of dropping everything to pursue the great unknown.  Responsibilities:  work, wives, significant others, kids, family, church, and community are just some of the things that keep us working in 'the right direction'.  After all, part of being a great man is owning up and tackling responsibility head-on.

I challenge you to use food as your escape.  Instead of getting lost in a bottle of Jack Daniels (I admit - it's sometimes necessary), try out a new recipe, restaurant, or dish.  A simple change can do the mind, and the soul some good.

The following dish is something that totally reminds me of my childhood.  Having a mother with Lebanese roots, I was brought up on all the good stuff.  Seriously, the influence of Middle Eastern cultures, mixed with French influences, has made Lebanese food some of the best on the planet.

I was fortunate enough to spend a holiday weekend at home, and mom was kind enough to divulge a few of her secrets.


Stuffed Grape Leaves

1 lb Ground Beef/Lamb
1 Cup Converted White Rice
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
2 Lemons, juiced
1/4 Cup Butter

Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly until well combined.  Set aside.

1 Jar Grape Leaves, or about 50 - 60 Fresh Grape Leaves
15 - 20 Cloves Garlic
Lemon Slices
2 Tablespoons Butter, cubed
Kosher Salt

Thoroughly rinse and dry grape leaves.  Add about 10 grape leaves and a few garlic cloves to the bottom of a medium sized, heavy bottomed pot.  Begin rolling grape leaves by laying the leaves flat, vein side up, onto a hard surface.  Add a generous pinch of meat to the end of the leaf, roll over one time, fold the ends, and finally roll up completely, as in making an egg roll.  Place in the pot, seam-side down side-by-side, alternating layers as you reach the top.  Pack the leaves tightly, ensuring an even distribution of garlic cloves amongst the layers.  Add a generous sprinkle of salt over the leaves and evenly distribute lemon slices and butter.  Fill the pot with water, just up to the top layer.  To keep the leaves from unrolling during the cooking process, place a small plate on top of the leaves.  Bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat, cover and reduce heat to simmer, 25 - 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for another 30 minutes before serving.