Also known as Tabbouleh and Tabouli, this is a super-refreshing Arab dish.  It's typically eaten as part of a mezze, which is sort of like a tapas thing served in a spread of several small dishes.  But, as usual in these glorious United State of America, we whore it out.

Now, this "whoring it out" could be looked at as either amazingly awesome or incredibly blasphemous.  On one hand, we are not limited by conventional "must do it like this" ways and are free to tweak and twist ingredients and foods to fit our own likes and dislikes.  However, there is definitely something to be said for preserving the history of hundreds of years of culinary tradition.

Either way, Tabouleh is a helluva yummy salad or side or main dish.  It's especially good in the summertime when the tomatoes and cucumbers and parsley are so good it makes me want to slap my Granny.  (I don't really want to slap my Grandma.  For those of you who have not heard that expression, it's a southern thing).

Here's the thing - you can change so many of these ingredients to suit your own palette, it can only be delicious to you.  Some people use green onions instead of red.  You can also leave the mint out if that's too strange to you.  There are recipes that have more of a parsley base and the grain is the addition, but I prefer the grain as the base.  If you don't like Quinoa, you can use the traditional bulgar, or even couscous.

For this batch, I found I was nearly out of Quinoa so I supplemented with some whole-grain couscous.  Play around and let me know what you like the best!


1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
3/4 c. small diced red onion, or about 1/2 a medium onion
1/4 c. lemon juice, or juice from 1 lemon
1 cucumber, peeled and small diced
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and small diced
3/4 c. fresh minced parsley
1/4 c. fresh minced mint leaves
4 T. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix the red onion and lemon juice.  Allow to sit (the lemon juice helps to cut the sting of the onion) while you prepare the rest.

Bring quinoa and water to a boil.  Turn down heat and simmer on low, covered, for 15 minutes.  Stir and re-cover, and set aside off heat for 5 minutes.  Bring to room temperature and fluff with a fork.

Mix all ingredients, including the onion/lemon juice mixture and cooled quinoa.  Serve as a side dish, or with pita bread, or in a toasted pita half.


Lentils with Carrots & Onions

I'm sort of obsessed with Pinterest.  I realize I am not alone in this either.  There are a million zillion people on it, pinning all sorts of things such as crafts, home decor, and of course food.  And now I have a to-do list about 7 miles long, complete with projects and ideas I found on Pinterest.

Apparently there is a "male" version of Pinterest (not that guys aren't on Pinterest - pretty sexist if you ask me) called Manteresting.  You don't pin, you nail (I mean, really.  Let's be honest. Men love to nail things, right??).  And these guys nail stuff like sports cars and beer and Jon Stewart and hot women in daisy dukes.  Or hot women in daisy dukes washing sports cars and drinking beer while Jon Stewart tells jokes.

Looking at so many fixer-upper pins on Pinterest, I could get really excited about reupholstering a chair that someone found in a dumpster.  However, I have never dumpster dived, and (fingers crossed) will never do so.  Thus, all my fun little projects have little hope of ever actually getting done.  And I run the risk of becoming a hoarder like the ones on the shows where they seem to always have a lot of cats and a Big Mouth Billy Bass among the piles of shitty flannels and 14-year old issues of Women's Day.

Per usual, this has nothing to do with the recipe below.  Just typing as I think.

Back to the food (who gives a shit about my thoughts on Pinterest?)...

This meal is a warm, stick-to-your-ribs kinda food. It has a slight Indian feel to it, but you can always leave out the Garam Masala if you want.  By the way, Garam Masala is available at the supermarket in the spice section - McCormick's makes a good one.  I like a lot of vinegar at the end to add a tartness.  Serve with crusty bread or naan.

Lentils with Carrots & Onions
Serves 6 for a meal

2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup red lentils
3 teaspoons Garam Masala
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
red wine vinegar, for garnish

Heat a bit of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add carrots and saute for 2 minutes.  Add onions and saute.  Cover pot and cook until the onions are slightly browned, stirring every once in a while.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Meanwhile, pour the tomatoes and juice into a bowl.  Using your hands, carefully squeeze the tomatoes, breaking them up into bite-sized pieces.  Pick over the lentils for any rocks or ugly ones.  Rinse.

Now add the garam masala, cumin, and thyme to the onion mixture.  Season to taste.  Allow to cook for a minute.  Add the tomatoes and juice, lentils, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 40-50 minutes or until lentils are tender.  Check it occasionally to make sure the liquid hasn't evaporated.

Once cooked, stir in the cilantro.  Serve with red wine vinegar at the table.  I like a pretty big splash in mine, to cut the sweetness of the onions and carrots.

Serve with naan or crusty bread.