Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Played A Trick On My Mom Last Night . A Tabbouleh Trick.

See, my dear mother isn’t one to be adventurous when it comes to ethnic foods. Give her a bratwurst dripping in sauerkraut, and she’s a happy German lady. Give her a choice of lamb korma or pad Thai, and she chooses a glass of water, with a cracker on the side. It’s one of my dad’s jokes that my mom isn’t particularly daring when it comes to other-country foods.

Still, I had two recipes that I thought she’d like, if not love. Souvlaki – a Greek dish – is just a fancy way to say “marinated meat”. Some olive oil, some lemon juice, a little oregano and garlic…a few pieces of chicken breasts and voila! I thought she'd enjoy that one.

But I was totally unprepared for her reaction to my not-quite-authentic couscous tabbouleh.

I didn’t try to scam this one past her. I told her straight up what the name of it was, and when she asked “what is it?” I may have left off the “Lebanese salad” part of the description and jumped right into a list of ingredients. See, I know a few things about what my mom likes to eat, and I really, really, had a good feeling that she’d like everything in this: A few raw veggies (including one of her beloved red bell peppers), a little lemon juice, a sprinkling of completely non-authentic Parmesan cheese. And how can you actually dislike couscous?

What completely blew me away, however, is that I watched her take thirds (and possibly fourths when my back was turned) of the tabbouleh. I bit my tongue. I wanted to burst out “But Mama! That’s a Mediterranean dish!” And finally, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. When she spooned up just a wee bit more of the stuff (And I will admit, it was dang good) on her plate, I had to tell her. I can’t trick my mom for long before I feel guilty.

My dad (who – like me – will eat just about anything that gets in his mouth) told me it was a good thing I hadn’t told her first. But now? I’m not so sure. My mom’s starting to rock out with the adventures these days.

Maybe tomorrow night I’ll fix that lamb korma after all.

And to make matters even more fun, my maternal experimentation is being thrown into the ring for Presto Pasta Nights. Double fun!

Couscous Tabbouleh

  • 1 box Parmesan flavored Couscous(I used Near East. I’ve never seen un-instant couscous around here)
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, diced small
  • 2/3 of a large cucumber, diced small
  • ½ of a large red bell pepper, diced small
  • 4-5 scallions, finely copped
  • 2 oz pine nuts
  • ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup chopped parsley


Cook couscous according to package directions. Then get busy chopping up your veggies.

Drizzle 1 Tbsp EVOO and 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice over the couscous and fluff with a fork.

Add your veggies, pine nuts and cheese, and fluff again.

Toss in your parsley.

Fluff-ernate again.

Now take a taste and add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and /or pepper as your heart desires.

Chill for at least 30 minutes. This stuff just gets better over time.