Ahhhhhh, Lebanese cuisine!
I’m crazy about it. Lebanese cuisine is an uber healthy cuisine that makes use of an abundance of fresh fruits (specifically pomegranate, watermelon, dates, lemons an figs), vegetables (specifically eggplant, zucchini and green beans), whole grains and fragrant herbs and spices.
My first experience with Lebanese food was as a kiddo, when a bakery called “Patisserie Tannous” opened up in our neighbourhood. Our family quickly fell in love with the lemony tabbouleh and it quickly became a Sunday brunch classic. Needless to say, the life expectancy of such a salad, once served, was way under 5 minutes. My siblings and I would engage in fencing, with utensils of course (haha imagine it was actual fencing! 😉 ) , over who would get the last bites. Not to mention it was chock-full of good-for-us veggies.
Cut to living with my Lebanese bestie in the gay village of Montreal. My friend Racha made THE best stuffed vine leaves. The entire process itself took her up to 8 hours, but the end result was particularly drool-worthy. Moreover, her mom would often visit us from Lebanon and stay with us. On mornings where she was in town, I would be awakened not by the smell of coffee, but to the smell of garlic (an equally pleasant awakening, if you ask me), as she would wake early to get a head start on concocting her amazingly good grub. No recipes needed, her hands moved intuitively, carefully and swiftly. I was impressed and admired her know-how, and every time I tried her food, I felt like I was transported to Lebanon, and was tasting a bit of my friend’s culture and history. It’s beautiful, really.
However, with all the Lebanese delicacies I’ve laid taste buds upon, I must say tabbouleh is my ultimate favourite, and I don’t use the word “favourite” lightly! 😉 Perhaps it’s because it brings me back to my childhood every time, but also because its flavours are so perfectly balanced that it flabberghasts me. That is why today, I’ve decided to share with you a tabbouleh recipe with a nutritionist’s touch. I’ve boosted its omega-3 and protein content with the addition of hemp seeds. Let me know how you enjoy it! 🙂
But first, a few tidbits about the individual ingredients in this refreshing Middle Eastern veggie medley:
- Cucumber: contains silica, which is amazing for hair growth, healthy skin and strong nails.
- Parsley: purported to slow tumour growth
- Mint: soothes digestion
- Hemp seeds: contain anti-ageing antioxidants like vitamin E
- Tomato: helps prevent prostate cancer
- Onion: contains quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant
- Olive oil: lowers cholesterol and helps prevent heart disease
Happy Hempy Tabbouleh
Ingredients (use fresh from your garden, if possible 🙂 ):
- 1 cup hemp seeds
- 10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 bunch mint, finely chopped (use dried if you prefer), plus a few leaves for garnish
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 4 Lebanese cucumbers (or an English cucumber)
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
- 1 tsp. salt
- I’m going to make this easy for you. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and serve. 🙂 Enjoy right away or let marinate overnight. I personally find tabbouleh tastes best the day after it’s made. 😉
Bring beams of sunshine into your kitchen by making this vibrant and green summery side dish.