Farmers Market Tabbouleh Salad
July 10, 2014 § 1 Comment
I just got back from a short trip to Jamaica. We stayed in the mountains and there was an organic farm and goats (goats!) on the property. We ate incredibly well (plantains, jerk chicken, collard greens, fresh juices!) and I hope to share some recipes and photos from the trip soon. But, no matter how well I eat on vacation, when I get back, I always crave vegetables.
On the plane ride home I read the latest issue of Bon Appetit, and saw this recipe for a tomato cabbage tabbouleh salad. The head notes of the recipe said “a proper tabbouleh will be mainly vegetables and herbs, with just a smattering of bulgur threaded through.” I could not agree more. What follows is definitely not a proper tabbouleh, but it is vegetable heavy, which is exactly how I like my post-vacation salads to be.
I shopped for this recipe at the farmers market, and that, with the combination of only being able to shop at vendors that took credit card because in my post-vacation haze I didn’t bring any cash, forced me to be a bit creative. I swapped green beans for the cabbage, and picked up some eggplant and peppers because they looked too good to skip. To avoid having to make another stop at the store, I used couscous instead of bulgur because I had it in my pantry. I also added some avocado and chickpeas because I wanted this salad to stand alone as a meal.
Now, when I ate this last night, I liked it, but, I didn’t love it. I made a tahini dressing to go with it and against my better judgment I followed a recipe that told me to include maple syrup. It was too sweet, and didn’t give the dish enough flavor. The salad was almost too vegetable forward–the green beans were overpowering, and it needed some richness. I think because the recipe was originally for a side, my additions weren’t enough to bring it into stand-alone territory.
So today for lunch, I mixed some greek yogurt, olive oil, salt, and hot sauce together, and then stirred this into the salad. Voila, problem solved! The yogurt dressing brings some creaminess and sharpness that the tahini dressing didn’t, and prevents the couscous from falling to the bottom of the bowl. After spending time in the kitchen and using up fresh summer produce for this recipe, I’m so glad this dish could be rescued!
My go-to solution when a dish isn’t quite tasting how I want is to add acidity, often in the form of fresh lemon juice. But in this case, I needed something to balance out the sharpness of the green beans, and the greek yogurt provided just the right balance of acidity and richness. The next time your dish is missing something, check out this great guide by Food and Wine, which speaks to this process more scientifically than I can! Pictured below is the revived salad with yogurt dressing.
Farmers Market Tabbouleh Salad
Adapted from Bon Appetit
For the Salad:
1 cup couscous (or you can use bulgur for a more traditional tabbouleh)
2 large eggplants
1 bell pepper
3 cups green beans, trimmed and chopped into thirds
1 small onion, chopped finely
3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup chopped fresh mint (I used kitchen scissors to cut up the mint)
2 cans (15 ounces each) of chickpeas
Juice of 2 large lemons
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
Optional toppings: Toasted sunflower seeds, avocado slices, toasted pine nuts, sliced black olives.
For the Yogurt Dressing:
1 cup greek yogurt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
A few dashes of hot sauce or red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
Make the Salad:
- Cube eggplant (I prefer slightly larger cubes to they hold up in the salad), toss with salt, and place in a colander over the sink for 20-30 minutes. See detailed instructions here.
- While the eggplant is sitting, chop the bell pepper (1/2 inch pieces work well), finely chop the onion, quarter the cherry tomatoes, and roughly chop or cut up the mint with kitchen scissors. Place these ingredients in a large bowl.
- Trim and cut the green beans into thirds. Set aside, as you will cook them soon.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Rinse eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil.
- Place eggplant on baking sheet and season with paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to combine the vegetables with the olive oil and seasoning.
- Bake the eggplant for 30-35 minutes, until it is tender and brown. Sometimes I even let it go for 40 minutes because I like it really silky.
- While the eggplant is cooking, parboil the green beans. Salt a pot of water, bring it to a boil, and add green beans. Cook for 4-5 minutes, then immediately drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Pat the green beans dry and add to the bowl along with the peppers, onions, tomatoes, and mint.
- Using the same pot, cook one cup couscous. Bring one pot of salted water to a boil, pour in couscous and stir quickly. Remove from heat and allow to sit, covered, for 4-5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork. Add the couscous to the bowl.
- Rinse and drain the chickpeas, pat dry, and add to the bowl.
- Add the roasted eggplant to the bowl.
- Toss all the ingredients in the bowl to combine. Squeeze the lemon juice over the ingredients and toss again. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
Make the Dressing:
- Combine yogurt, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and hot sauce or red pepper flakes. Stir vigorously to spread the olive oil and spices throughout the yogurt.
- Scoop a cup or so of the salad ingredients into each eater’s bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the yogurt dressing and toss to combine.
- Add any other toppings you like (avocado, sunflower seeds, toasted pine nuts, black olives).
- Season with additional salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes as necessary.