It’s August 1st. Summer is far from over but we’ve entered its critical stage. At this time of year we inevitably crave salads. Or better yet, some small plates served Mezze style in a mouthwatering spread of different flavors, cooling herbs and stimulating spices. An excellent guide for what to eat during the summer (or any time of year, for that matter) is to go by what is available in season. Delicious meals can be prepared with very simple ingredients. If you don’t have a garden in your back yard, visit a local farmer’s market, join a CSA, or find a reliable produce stand. Let the ingredients themselves be your inspiration.
This summer we’ve partnered with Garden Kitchen Lab,a Brooklyn-based program that educates youth about the practice and importance of growing local produce and bringing it to the table. One of our educators is paired with Garden Kitchen Lab Coordinators at Mccarren Park Recreation Center in Williamsburg, where we harvest produce directly from the garden and prepare healthy and seasonal recipes with the students. Most recently, we concocted a traditional Middle Eastern Tabbouleh, a salad of chopped herbs and grain dressed with lemon and olive oil that is a traditional component of Middle Eastern meals.
Tomatoes are in season and herbs such as parsley and mint are in abundance. Parsley is anti-inflammatory and immune-strengthening, as well as containing a vitamin C, while tomatoes are a rich source of magnesium and vitamins A,C, and E. Traditional lebanese tabbouleh is composed of chopped parsley and a smaller amount of Bulgur (a grain ground from the wheat berry), mixed with vegetables such as tomato and cucumber and eaten with romaine lettuce leaves. Some modern tabbouleh preparations substitute cous-cous for the bulgur which creates a slightly mouthier texture. Try our version and feel free to substitute some of the components. Serve alongside Ful Medames (recipe below) or other small plates of your choice.
TABBOULEH SALAD & FUL MEDAMES
1 cup bulgur, medium grade, cooked
3 cups loosely packed parsley, leaves only, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup cucumber, seeded and diced
2 scallions, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Toss ingredients together to combine. Serve with Ful Medames (recipe below), on romaine “boats,” toasted pita and/or hard-boiled eggs.
1 15 ounce can cooked fava beans
1 cup parsley, leaves only, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoons olive oil
Toss ingredients together to combine.