I think you learn the most about someone through their food. You can ask them all sorts of questions, listen to their stories, but the easiest and quickest way to learn about anyone is through the food they like to eat and make. I had that experience through this recipe!
I am SO excited to be hosting the Food Matters Project this week! I choose this recipe because my in-laws, well most of them, are Lebanese and I don't think I ever ate Tabbouleh before meeting them. I thought I could learn so much more about them by actually taking time to make the food they love (because I love to eat the food they make!). I now have a deeper understanding of their love, their family and their culture through making this dish.
In preparation to make this dish, I asked my mother-in-law about her tabbouleh (which is SO good) and how she learned to make it from her mom. I was surprised to learn, that like many recipes from my family, that it wasn't a written down recipe, it was a long-learned process of watching and tasting. She said she just sat in the kitchen and watched her mom chop and mix the ingredients together. It is amazing how similar our families are....something I learned through food!
This is a recipe of love. A recipe that takes a lot of time to chop and make (although it is an easy make ahead dish), I felt the love of his family while I made it. And I learned a lot about my hubby's grandmother in the process. I never met his grandmother, she passed away long before I even met my husband, but I thought about her while making this. I even asked my husband when I was finished "would Sitti be proud of this?" He assured me that she would be, no matter what it tasted like (but it was yummmmy!) because it was done in honor and remembrance of her and her family.
I feel like I got to know her by taking the time to learn more about her food. You should try it! And try this delicious dish. It is a lot of chopping, but worth every minute of time, energy, and ounce of love that you put into it! Enjoy!
from Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook
1/2 c quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/3 c olive oil, more as needed
1/4 c lemon juice, or more as needed
1 c roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 c roughly chopped fresh mint
1 c cooked or canned white or pink beans, drained, optional
6 or 7 radishes, chopped
1/2 c chopped scallions
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
about 6 black olives, pitted and chopped, or to taste, optional
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/4 c chopped pistachios or almonds, optional
Put the quinoa in a small saucepan with 3/4 c water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and bubble gently until the quinoa as absorbed all of the water, 15 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and let rest, covered for 5 minutes. Toss the warm quinoa with the oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with pepper.
Just before you're ready to eat, add the remaining ingredients and toss gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more oil or lemon juice as needed, then serve.