Monday, July 14, 2008

Tabbouliatiki Salad--The Turbo Charged Love Child of Tabbouleh and Greek Salad

Tabbouliatiki Salad

I am a vegetarian, but I pretty much hate salad. I know this sounds like a contradiction, but consider: whenever there is no actual vegetarian food, people say, "You can have a salad!" By salad they mean 15 calories worth of iceberg lettuce. This is not a meal, people. So I embittered toward all salad. Also, I don't really like lettuce. I mean, I'll eat $10/pound micrograins watered with the tears of virgins and tended by sacred goats (which makes me sound like a hipster, I admit), but your average iceberg or romaine does not turn me on.

When I went to Greece, I wasn't sure what to expect by way of food. Because of the whole vegetarian thing, generally when I travel food is more necessary caloric sustenance than a part of the experience (Scandinavian countries, I'm looking at you), but Greece was an absolute revelation. It was the best food I've eaten in my life, ever.

Classic Greek salad is called "Horiatiki," which literally means "Village Salad." I guess it has its origins as a simple, humble food. It is still simply prepared, but humble is not the word. According to a placemat at one restaurant we ate at (and aren't placemats the best source of culinary history?), horiatiki probably started out as simply a slab of feta topped with a bit of sliced red onion, sprinkled with herbs, and drizzled with olive oil. It evolved to include a few more ingredients, but only a few. Classic Greek salad contains only cucumber, tomato, onion, and feta, dressed with olive oil and a few herbs. Some places may toss in a couple extra ingredients, like sweet peppers, bell peppers, olives, or capers, but no more than that. The best part about Greek salad? NO LETTUCE.

This week I went to the farmer's market with no inspiration for what I wanted to make for lunch this week. I am cheap and I enjoy my own cooking so I bring my lunch to work every day, making a big old something on Sunday and eating it throughout the week. I ran into a friend at the market and she described a Greek salad she had made and it all became clear. Greek salad alone isn't going to be enough to fill me up, but what if I combined it with tabbouleh? And added some chickpeas for more protein and fiber? The answer is delicious.

Tabbouliatiki Salad

Drain and rinse:
1 can chickpeas
2-3 cloves garlic and add to chickpeas along with
Zest of 1 lemon
Drizzle with:
1/4 cup olive oil.
Stir and let sit for the flavors to meld.

In another bowl, reconstitute 1 cup bulghur wheat according to package directions, except before measuring out your water put into the measuring cup:
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Then fill the measuring cup the rest of the way with the necessary amount of water, and pour over the bulghur. Soak until the liquid is absorbed.

Meanwhile, chop
1 bunch fresh parsley (I prefer flat leaf)
1-2 sweet and/or bell peppers
1/2 red onion
2 cucumbers
1 pint grape tomatoes, or 3 full size tomatoes
1 small handful fresh mint leaves
8 oz feta cheese (can use fat free)
1 Tbsp capers (optional; not chopped)

Mix all ingredients together. Add cracked pepper and salt to taste, drizzle with more olive oil if needed.


I also got a pint of raspberries, because my gmail had randomly suggested this Salt-Kissed Buttermilk Cake recipe to me. I love buttermilk and had some in the fridge that needed to be used, and I love salty-sweet, so I had to try it. The Whole Foods didn't have whole wheat pastry flour (how I miss Austin's Central Market that had whole wheat pastry flour in bulk!) so I used 1 cup all purpose white flour and 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour. I didn't have any coarse sugar, so for sprinkling on top I used 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (made by putting a vanilla bean in a jar with some sugar and letting it sit). For the salt topping I used coarse sea salt. I am not good at photographing baked goods; trust that the cake tasted better than it looks. The flavors are very simple and the lemon zest really stands out. Next time, though, I'll sprinkle some cinnamon on top for a little bit of kick.

Salty Sweet Cake


There is much sewing to discuss and even more stashing to confess, but food is so much easier to photograph than I am!


chicamericaine said...

Yum! I'll be trying your recipes -- thanks for sharing. We're not vegetarian but we eat very little meat chez nous. I was wondering how you fared in Paris.

Happy Bastille Day!


Jill B said...

Hey, that looks good. i think I'll keep it in mind for some Tabbouleh I have in the cabinet. It kind of reminds me of a couscous salad I've made, but maybe more filling.

renee/cidell said...


Little Hunting Creek said...

that buttermilk cake is calling my name. I must make it tonight! Thank you for the recipe.

Dana said...

You've mentioned Austin a couple of times. Did you live there in the past? I'm down the street from the CM in Fort Worth. Isn't all that food sold in bulk great? My mouth is watering after looking at that salad. Gotta. get. something. to. eat.

Anonymous said...

I'm a vegetarian but I rarely want to eat salad either. Last night I ate a tomato-mushroom-crouton salad. The lettuce is rotting in the fridge because I just couldn't make myself eat it. Your salad looks much better--I'll certainly try out that recipe.

rosanne said...

I love your version of a "salata horiatiki!" I always like to add either a can of rinsed butter beans or kidney/cannelini beans and toss with some parsley. As a child of Greek parents, I have to agree it is the best food anywhere - super fresh ingredients with lots of flavorful herbs. I'll have to try the bulghur wheat option, it sounds really tasty. One salad with lettuce is called "prasini salata," direct translation green salad, made with bitter lettuces, parsley, dill, olive oil & vinegar. Did you get to try this? Bitter lettuce balanced by the sweet dill & parsley...mmmm...Chickory and arugula are some of my favorites - iceberg & romaine don't do much for me either and I *love* greens.

melissa said...

ooh please tell me you ordered fava when you were in Greece! I did a sailing tour around the Greek Islands with my mom a few years ago and I was so addicted to that stuff I'd order it at every single restaurant, every single night. And there's only one restaurant here in London that can replicate it with any degree of authenticity... *sigh*

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Dana-I went to law school in Austin, and clerked there for a year after for a total of four blissful years. Admittedly, at the end I was ready to live someplace bigger and DC has scratched that itch. Now I'm ready to go back...but there are no jobs for me there.

Rosanne-I don't think I got the chance to try the prasini salata. Too bad! Now I'll just have to go back to Greece. Heh. Seriously, I could go on about the food for ages. It was SO GOOD that I had a hard time eating when I got back because everything was bad in comparison. And I'm talking about my own cooking, not fast food or anything gross like that!

Melissa-One of my fave restaurants in DC used to have the fava puree and I was looking forward to having it in Greece, but I didn't see it on any menus! I must not have been where it is a local specialty.

Katharine said...

Oy, my comment didn't appear! Just to say HI from a sister veg--veg since '86. I wasn't into salads too much either until I made it (1) a rule to go with dinner, and (2) started using balsamic vinegar crème and EV olive oil as the dressing of choice. Must try your love child salad here, I love Greek salads!