Scott and I were sitting on the couch on the evening of New Year’s Eve, after eating a mini chocolate layer cake I had made for us to split and watching the Penguins’ hockey game, when he looked at me and asked how I felt about New Years. I responded with something to the likes of ‘not really seeing it as a big deal’. I love celebrating anything for the sake of having something to celebrate, but can’t say I feel anything particular for New Years. He said he felt the same – that each day of the year is technically one year later than that day the previous year, making New Years neat and all, but not life altering. We both agreed a positive byproduct of the holiday was the reminder to pause and reflect upon all the happenings, moves, challenges, accomplishments, vivid memories, adventures, dark times, and the light that got you through it all during past 365 days of life. Reflection. Something most of us do this time of year. However, I think it is best utilized everyday. Can you imagine what your life would look like this year if you slowed down and reflected upon your day throughout the day. Instead of rushing through lists and letting the days blur together as you try to accomplish just-one-more-task cause then you feel you will have caught up, but no-you-won’t. There is always something else. But if we slow down and stop trying to “finish” life, we might be able to remember it a bit more. Be more intentional. Heck, even enjoy it despite the bumps along the way. Sure we will have goals (those are good) and work our tails off to provide for ourselves and others, but lets do it daily. Not weekly, or yearly, but daily. Lets take the time to think and not just do. Set out to accomplish, in the best form of “you”, whatever it is the day brings. But take a moment or two during the day to reflect, think, give a hug, be thankful for what you have already been given, and overall stop trying to finish life – lets live it instead. Many of you already live like this, and can attest to the benefits in your life as well as in others’. I try, but come up short many days. However, I will not let what I came up short in one day keep me from living full today. So here it is, a new day, and I’m going to give it my best shot! Happy new year, happy new day, happy day to be alive.
Now lets talk FRESH. That is what this dish screams. While I dream of one day traveling the world, the best I can do at the moment is travel in my kitchen. Today I am in the middle-east, eating a fresh tabbouleh salad in Israel with creamy hummus and sliced cucumber. While most traditional recipes serve tabbouleh with romaine leaves or pita bread, I opted for pairing it with a protein source fitting to the region, hummus, and crisp cucumber slices. Traditional tabbouleh contains bulgur wheat, but since gluten and I are no longer friends I left it out with the intent of replacing it with cooked buckwheat groats or quinoa. However, to some middle easterners’ dislike, I’m sure, I left out the grain all together. Once tasting it without I fell head over heals for its bright flavor and light texture when paired with the hummus. However, feel free to add a cooked grain to the salad if you wish! Especially if you are eating just the salad alone. But keep it light, this dish is meant to be more parsley, less grain. I make a recommendation for the proportion under recipe “tid-bits” below. This salad is so fresh, cleansing, and oozing with flavor. The hummus is the creamiest I have been able to master at home yet, and is a new household fav. Paired together with the crunch of fresh, hydrating, crisp cucumber slices, the texture and flavor of this meal is incredible. Make ahead and let chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours, or overnight, to give the flavors time to develop. Eat for lunch or as a light dinner. This is great to serve for when you will have company over, and also packs well if you need to make ahead and bring with you to work, school, or on a road trip!
Tid-Bits: If you choose to add a grain to the salad I would recommend the gluten free option of 1/4 cup dry quinoa combined with 1/2 cup water and brought to a boil on the stove. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook until all the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes) and then remove it from the heat and leave covered to set for an additional 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to fully cool before tossing with the salad and chilling before serving. Also, if you can find fresh mint in your market (or garden) a handful, chopped, would be magnificent. Sadly there was none to be found in mine this time of year, but I plan on adding it to another batch when I can.
Inspired by Green Kitchen Stories
3 cups cooked chickpeas/garbanzos
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup warm water
salt to taste
2 bunches of fresh parsley
1 small tomato
1/2 large cucumber
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 to 3 teaspoons olive oil
salt to taste
Sliced cucumber for serving.
For the hummus, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend for several minutes until creamy. Taste and add salt at 1/4 teaspoon at a time until seasoned to your liking (I used about 3/4 teaspoon). Transfer to a glass bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. When kept in an airtight container it will keep for one week.
For the tabbouleh, rinse the parsley and lay out flat on several paper towels to dry. Once dry, remove the stems and finely chop the leaves. It should yield about 4 cups once finely chopped. Place in a large serving bowl. Cut your tomato in half, scoop out the seeds, finely chop, and then lay on a paper towel to soak up any remaining juices. Do the same with the cucumber. Finely chop two scallions (also known as green onions), both the green and white parts, and add to the bowl of parsley. Now add the chopped tomato and cucumber to the bowl and toss with lemon juice and olive oil. Salt to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon) then cover the bowl with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill and set until ready to serve.
Serve the tabbouleh on top of a thin spread of hummus. Scoop up bites with cucumber slices, or feel free to simply use a fork. You could also substitute another favorite scooping vegetable, or tear pieces of soft pita pita bread and scoop some on top of that too.
Everyone needs to listen to this single. Its like Ryan Adams and Copeland had a baby, except it’s Austin Gibbs and Brennan Smiley who had the baby and its MAGICAL.
Speaking of Copeland, THEY’RE BACK. My tail is seriously wagging so hard right now.
Working on a vegan and gluten free version of these because I have been craving alllll the tahini cookies.
Pre-seasoned mashed potatoes?! How have I not tried this.
My mind has been drifting more lately to imagining Scott and I in a home like this. Maybe one day.