Sunday, November 5, 2006

Impromptu Middle Eastern Feast

A few weeks ago, JD, R and I went to the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market. It was a nice, warm, fall day, and we didn't need anything in particular. I wanted some greens, and JD wanted some of his favorite coffee. I picked up a beautiful mix of seasonal salad greens, R bought an Asian-inspired shirt, and JD got the coffee he wanted. After that, it was a quick stop at Hobby Lobby. Neither R or JD had ever been to one before they met me, and now they both love remains one of the few places we can can shop without JD complaining.

Once we arrived home, we were all hungry, and didn't have anything prepared. Suddenly, I remembered the chickpeas, red onion, dill, mint, parsley, and cucumber I had. I usually keep some Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Pita Bread in the freezer, and R had some super ripe tomatoes. That sounded like the makings for a feast of hummus, tabouli, and Greek salad to me!

Looking through the pantry, I noticed I didn't have any bulghur wheat, but I did have a mixture of red and white quinoa, which is whole grain(bulghur is a cracked grain), but it has a relatively short cooking time and doesn't require soaking or toasting for proper digestion like most larger whole grains. I started boiling water while I washed the quinoa. While that was boiling, I washed the greens I had just bought, plus some arugala that I already had on hand.

The purple parts were slightly iridescent, like the wings of a butterfly. I told you it was beautiful. I set the greens aside to dry, since dressings and sauces stick to greens better if the greens are dry--if greens are wet, the surfaces are already slick, and the dressing will slide right off.

I started chopping veggies, herbs and seasonings like mad. Red onion, cucumber, tomato, assorted Greek olives, dill, parsley, mint, lemon, watermelon radishes, and garlic. Half of the tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, dill, and garlic ended going into the salad, along with the radishes and olives. First I marinated them with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and balsamic vinegar.

By that time, the quinoa was done, so I fluffed it up, and poured it into a serving bowl to cool for a bit while I made the hummus, so that the heat of the quinoa wouldn't cook the raw ingredients. I also put the frozen pitas into a 200 degree pre-heated oven for a few minutes at this point.

To make the hummus, I simply added about 1 1/2 cups cooked and drained chickpeas, 1 tablespoon raw tahini, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, two small cloves of minced garlic and a few springs of chopped parsley to a food processor with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a bit of sea salt.

I mixed placed the marinated vegetables over the bed of greens.

Then, while R and JD set the table, I mixed the remaining red onion, tomato and cucumber into the cooled quinoa along with some parsley, mint, capers, olive oil, lemon and garlic.

I put out some kalamata olives, green Greek olives, oil-cured black olives (my favorite), with some capers and a small bowl of leftover notcheese because I didn't have any of my homemade tofu feta, but the notcheese is so creamy and smooth it balances out the sharp bitter and pungent flavors of the salad . I cut the warm-from-the-oven pitas into quarters and we sat down to our feast.

This is my plate up close:

JD didn't eat any salad of course, but he stuffed himself full of pita, hummus and olives. I think that's kind of a perfect meal for him.


Anonymous said...

Christina, this looks great. And your presentation is exquisite!

Thanks for the recent link, we're honored. We have good news too - recently won three awards at the "Vloggies", the first awards ceremony for video bloggers. It a telling sign that a little green show about organic and raw foods can with the "best cooking show" at such an event.

We'll be returning the link love soon with our upcoming "freinds of freshtopia" page. It'll be a while though - real life is calling.

Keep up the great work!
- Oscar

Anonymous said...

Where did you buy Quinoa?

Christina said...

I'm not sure where I bought this batch, probably The Natural Epicurean Store in Austin, Texas

You can find quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah") at most health food stores, many supermarkets, and even some of the big box stores. I often buy it in bulk, although the red and black varieties are generally only sold in 1 or 2 pound packages.

Quinoa is becoming very trendy recently, partially because it is a nice, quick-cooking whole grain. It's also nutritious, full of protein, and versatile, all of which make it great for people with gluten sensitivities. I've used gluten-free quinoa flour, quinoa pasta, and quinoa flakes all with pretty nice results.