Friday, January 8, 2010

A Cause to Celebrate

The world can rest, today I found my book boxes.

I can rest; I found my world of books. I am very attached to my books. I read and reread the same poetry and cookbooks, and as I found today, I read and reread (make and remake) many of the same recipes. It is like reading a comforting note from an old friend, like reading Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. It does not matter who wrote the recipe for whom. I read it as if it were written just for me.

In the book boxes was also one of my favorite and most-used cookbooks, Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons. It has been out for more than a decade but it is still spot-on in my flavor cravings. I found my most-used page: "Fruit and Nut Tabouli," and made it immediately. I make a few changes to her recipe, but if you happen upon her book, know that her recipes are reliable enough to not have to. According to the cover, when Emmons' book first came out in 1999, it was cutting edge. Her recipes are not 'fusion' or 'ethnic' or even classic vegetarian food. But they are vibrant, filling, and varied. It is one of the places I turn when I feel food stagnant, when I've forgotten how to cook. I highly recommend it.

Fruit and Nut Tabouli

This tabouli is fabulous for wintertime, so don't delay! It is a bit of freshness and sweet in the middle of stew season. I use quinoa or couscous, but millet or the more traditional wheat bulgur would be nice too. If citrus is not a local fruit for you, try substituting apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice and chopped apples for the oranges.

1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
2 seedless oranges
juice of 1 lemon juice
1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 minced onion
1/2 cucumber, chopped small
1 1/2 cups chopped parsley
1/2 cup mint
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup currents
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper to taste

Rinse the quinoa very well in a fine mesh sieve. For me this takes a minute or so. Drain well also.

Heat some oil in a largish saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa and toast, stirring occasionally, until it smells fragrant and toasty, about five minutes. Add water and salt and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about fifteen minutes, or until tender and the water is mostly gone. Take off the heat and let sit for at least ten minutes with the lid on.

Meanwhile, make a decision: is this a fussy show-off day or not so much. If you want to show off, section the oranges with a paring knife: cut off the peel and pith with a sharp knife, following the curve of the orange and ending up with a naked orange with its membranes in place and obvious. Then, using a paring knife, cut out the flesh by sections, leavings the membranes. Chop up the sections into inch-sized pieces and add them to a large bowl. If you do not wish to show off but rather eat this damn salad soon, peel the orange like any other person, separate the wedges, chop accordingly, and add to the big bowl.

To the oranges, add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, onion, cucumber, parsley, mint, and currents, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

When the quinoa is cooler, add to the bowl with the reserved walnuts and mix well again. Taste. Flat? Add salt. Boring? Add lemon juice. Not quite sweet enough? Add more oranges or currants. Serve the salad at room temperature, still war, or cold, but my favorite is room temp the first time and cold for leftovers. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I love quinoa but never had it in tabbouleh. It sounds delicious. I hope you enjoyed your private time with your books.