Tag Archives: tabbouleh


Our Sunday family dinner triggered by Sarah’s barley tabbouleh turned into a festive Mediterranean-influenced evening. Carol brought an elegant tray of vegetables and a delicious spread of butternut squash and tahini. She had used a recipe from the beautiful cookbook, Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, 2012).

I had thought about making pita bread, but instead I found some at the market. Home made will have to wait.  The main attraction was a lamb and chick pea tagine. The purists will insist that it is not a real tagine: I browned the lamb; I used chicken stock; I used big chunks of onion so they could be picked out by the onion deniers; I braised it in the oven for hours; and I used a heavy pot instead of a classic tagine. In spite of all of that, the lamb was fork tender with Moroccan smells and tastes; served with couscous it was a big hit with everyone.

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. Many of them are herbs and spices that you probably already have in your pantry. You can easily find the others at the grocery store. Or you can just leave out one or two. Probably nobody but one of the purists will notice.


Lamb and Chick Pea Tagine


  • 1 cup dry chick peas
  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder steaks, bone and heavy fat removed and cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
  • zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and root trimmed but intact, cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into obliques
  •  ½ cup dried apricots cut into 1 inch squares
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch stirred into 1 tablespoon water to make a slurry


  1. In a saucepan, cover the chick peas with at least 2 inches of extra water and let stand overnight. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the lamb, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger, garlic powder, coriander, and salt. Mix until the lamb is completely coated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate over night, stirring occasionally.
  3. In the morning, place the chick peas and marinated lamb in a heavy oven-proof pot. Add the chicken broth and bring to the boil over a medium-high flame. Stir in the garlic, ginger root, lemon juice and zest, tomato paste, and honey. Cover and transfer to the middle of an oven preheated to 200°F. Braise for at least 6 hours, stirring occasionally.
  4. About 3 hours before you plan to serve the tagine, add the onion, carrots, and dried apricots.
  5. When you are ready to serve, correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer the meat and vegetables to a large serving platter. Place the cooking pot with the cooking liquid over a high flame and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir until thickened. Serve in a gravy boat alongside the tagine.




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The first time I ever ate tabbouleh was nearly 50 years ago at a backyard potluck for our laboratory work group. The offerings included several varieties of potato salad, lots of baked beans, and delicious barbecued chicken. But the standout – and by far the most exotic – was some refreshing tabbouleh brought by our secretary who came from a large Lebanese family. I could have eaten the whole bowl, and I am sure that I made a pig of myself. Since then, our family has made tabbouleh many times, and often for potluck dinners. We keep a bag of bulgur in the refrigerator so that we can make tabbouleh whenever the craving hits. I have never thought of using anything but bulgur – until I tasted some tabbouleh from Sarah’s refrigerator during our recent visit. She had substituted barley, and it was delicious. I gave it a try for our latest Sunday family dinner. It wound up becoming the inspiration for a Mediterranean-themed evening. The downside of tabbouleh is that it involves a lot of chopping and dicing. The upside is that once the chopping and dicing are done, it only takes a few minutes to assemble. I like tabbouleh with a distinctly lemon taste, so I used the juice of 2 lemons. If that’s too much for you, cut back to one lemon.


Barley Tabbouleh


  • ½ cup pearled barley
  • 2 cups salted water
  • olive oil
  • 2 large bunches parsley
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 3 large Roma tomatoes
  • 2 small Persian cucumbers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Stir the barley into boiling salted water and cook at a low boil for 45 minutes or until soft with a little crunch. Drain, rinse, and toss with olive oil to prevent the grains from sticking together. Set aside.
  2. Wash and shake dry the parsley. Trim the leaves of stems. You should have about 6 cups of unpacked parsley leaves. Chop finely or pulse several times with a Vita-Mix set on “3”. Set aside.
  3. Wash the mint and remove the leaves. You should have about 1 cup of unpacked mint leaves. Chop finely or pulse several times with a Vita-Mix set on “3”. Set aside.
  4. Blanch, peel, and seed the tomatoes. Cut into ¼ inch dice. Set aside.
  5. Dice the cucumbers into ¼ inch pieces. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked barley, chopped parsley, chopped mint, tomatoes, cucumbers and minced garlic. Stir in the lemon juice and olive oil. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator for one hour. Serve.

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Beginning of small rapids

Running the rapids

This last weekend we spent three days on a raft trip down a wild part of the Rio Chama in northern New Mexico. The trip was sponsored by the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance., who are working to preserve the river.  The river and its immediate environs are currently a federal wilderness study area. If the Congress approves the plan, this beautiful river and the surrounding mountains will be designated a Federal Wilderness Area which will ensure protection of the unique, fragile, and beautiful environment. We tagged along for the adventure and to see the scenery The Wilderness Alliance is working hard to obtain wilderness designation, so their staff also wanted to look at the river.

The raft trip was run by an outfitter from Taos, New Mexico, named Far-Flung Adventures.They brought a virtual flotilla for our trip, including three paddle boats, a supply boat, and four inflatable kayaks. There were three boatmen and a single boatwoman, all of whom were extremely friendly, helpful, and competent. The trip was filled with relaxing floats, shite water rapids, sunny skies, and spectacular scenery.

What we were not expecting was the food. All of the supplies, including the food itself and the portable kitchen had to be carried with us on the river and through the rough water. Our anticipation was that we would get a lot of cold sandwiches, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Wow, were we in for a surprise.

Our first lunch was a delicatessen spread just an hour or so after we first boarded the boats. That evening we had a wide selection of cheese and dips to go with wine or beer. Then there were grilled chicken tacos with fresh-made pico de gallo along with fresh spinach, almond, and mandarin orange salad. To top it off, there was a chocolate cake with icing, baked in a three-legged Dutch oven.

Big steaks ready to grill


Then there were tabbouleh, pasta salad with artichoke hearts, tender steaks, grilled salmon, and a cherry cobbler – again done in the Dutch oven.

Ingredients for the cherry cobbler

Brent ready to serve the cherry cobbler

I wound up gaining 3 pounds on what I thought was a wilderness expedition.

On top of all that, we had live music and poetry recitations from the multiple-threat boat crew.

Brent playing his guitar

This turned out to be a memorable trip, and one that I would highly recommend. You are pampered as much as you would like, or you can be strenuous in the kayaks to work off all those good calories.

Fresh fruit

Vegetable garnish





  • ½ cup bulgur
  • 2 cups fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • ½ large red onion, chopped
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Cover the bulgur with boiling  water and let stand for ½ hour until soft. Place the soaked bulgur in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze as dry as possible
  • Combine the bulgur with all of the remaining ingredients, adjusting seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss lightly and serve.


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