Sunday, June 2, 2013

Super Foods Go International

Ever since I was a little girl, I have love Mediterranean flavors.  The balance of savory, acidic, nutty and briny that the region has brought to the culinary world is something that's highly addictive and so definitive of their culture.  One dish that I truly love, which I find to be a fantastic marriage of so many flavors is tabbouleh - a traditional cracked wheat and parsley salad.  The bright, fresh flavors with the array of textures really make it a fantastic and versatile dish.

While traditionally, the recipe calls for bulgar (cracked) wheat, I prefer to make mine with quinoa for a boost in fiber and protein content.  If you really break down the salad into its individual components, it's really easy to see why it truly is a "super food."

  • One bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley packs three times the vitamin C of an orange, twice the iron of spinach and about 1/4 of your daily recommended intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium.  It really is so much more than a crappy garnish circa 1990.  
  • Onions and garlic bring anti-inflamatory properties and can help regulate cholesterol levels.
  • Cucumbers are high in fiber and water content and work as a great cleaning tool to help rid your body of unwanted toxins.
  • Mint leaves are an excellent digestion aid.
  • Tomatoes are high in vitamins A, C, K, lycopene, potassium and folate - all of which help fight free radicals and lower your risk of certain cancers.
  • Lemons are another digestion aid, loaded with vitamin C and when juiced, work as a great liver cleansing agent.
It really is just a nutrient-packed bowl of deliciousness!  

Mediterranean Tabbouleh

2 cups dry quinoa
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups water
2 bunches of flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped 
1 larger cucumber, seeded, peeled and diced
2 medium roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8-10 peppermint leaves, torn
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon allspice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

- In a large skillet, toast the dry quinoa over medium heat for 7-8 minutes or until the kernels begin to turn golden brown 
- Bring the water and wine to a rolling boil and add the toasted quinoa
- Once fully cooked, set aside to cool 
- Combine quinoa, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, garlic and mint in a large bowl and toss well to evenly distribute the ingredients
- Mix olive oil, lemon juice, allspice, salt and pepper and drizzle over salad
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container, refrigerated for 3-4 days 
- Tabbouleh can be served with soft pita bread and hummus, as a side dish with a protein or use it as a stuffing in roasted tomatoes or peppers 

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