easing into spring: minty fresh taboule and a green bean salad with blood oranges

green bean salad with blood oranges and feta cheesei’ve been so obsessed with quinoa lately that i’ve neglected to make taboule the traditional way, with bulgur rather than substituting my favorite grain-seed (q-u-i-n-o-a}. at our house we really enjoy a good spicy quinoa-taboule (almost on a weekly basis), but there is something soothing and familiar and frankly more “substantial” about the original version-so, in planning the menu for a small gathering of friends last night i decided on a bowl of super fresh lemony taboule loaded with mint leaves (the way my lovely lebanese friend taught me way too many years ago in france) to go with my all time favorite chicken dish, adda’a morrocan chicken (which turned out better than ever i think- possibly because

minty fresh taboule

of the last minute addition of a cup of fresh orange juice). one of the best things about taboule is that the leftovers taste almost better the next day-which brings me to the most important factor in making a good one-the ingredients: they must be fresh and abundant (more fresh parsley, mint, and lemons than you think you need).

taboule ingredients

if you plan to make some, and you really should, because nothing makes you feel as spring(y) fresh as this dish-be ready to become pretty good friends with your favorite sharp knife….you’ll have to do some chopping, but it WILL be worth it. speaking of chopping, my green bean, feta, and walnut salad requires very little of it. it is so often my go to {delicious and easy} salad/side dish/almost-a-meal when i entertain-here i added the last blood oranges of the season for a citrusy punch and their beautiful color. it made the perfect side for the medium rare tri-tip roast i served with it. okay, now i’m hungry, and my mouth is literally watering. i’m hitting the fridge for a nice bowl of that leftover taboule~wish you could join me:-)

ingredients for 4-6 servings of bulgur (or substitute quinoa) taboule:

  • a bowl of mint fresh taboule2 large bunches of organic flat leaf parsley (about 1.5-2 cups) washed, allowed to dry, and finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch organic fresh mint leaves (1/2-1 cup), washed, allowed to dry and thinly sliced/chopped
  • 6-7 organic scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 ripe roma (or 3 medium ripe) tomatoes, finely cubed
  • 3/4 cup (i prefer less bulgur-adjust amount to your taste) cooked bulgur or quinoa (boil in lightly salted water for just a few minutes then drain excess water and allow it to cool)
  • 2 lemons, freshly juiced (adjust amount to taste-but keep in mind the bulgur soaks up the lemon juice and olive oil quite a bit)
  • 3-4 tbs good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste-red pepper flakes, optional for spicy

place all the ingredients other than olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl (leave ingredients in separate piles until ready to toss). if making ahead, cover and set aside until 30 minutes prior to serving, then dress (with lemon juice to taste, evoo, and salt & pepper) toss well. taste and adjust seasoning. enjoy every bite. {see below for green bean salad recipe}

for green bean salad with blood oranges:

blood oranges in salad

  • 2-3 cups organic green beans, cleaned and quickly boiled in lightly salted water until just tender-do not overcook them. drain in a collander and quickly place in an ice bath or rinse with cold water. drain well.
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup crumbled french feta cheese
  • 1-2 blood oranges (or you can use pomegranate seeds), peeled and sectioned into small pieces.
  • 1/4 cup of my shallot vinaigrette

combine ingredients in a bowl, drizzle with dressing, toss just before serving. simple as that.

the dinner table with the famous blood oranges front and center

the dinner table with the famous blood oranges front and center

 

my chicken dish with olives and lemons just getting started (adda's morrocan chicken)

my chicken dish with olives and lemons just getting started (adda’s morrocan chicken)

 

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adda’s "moroccan" chicken with lemons and olives

when i was young, my dad used to travel a lot, and i clearly remember the time he brought back this moroccan chicken recipe after one of his trips (i can’t remember where he’d gone, but it was not morocco). he made an amazing meal for us (or did he share the recipe, and my mom made it….)-either way,  i’m pretty sure we’ve changed and adapted it several times over the years (it started with cornish game hens), but the dish still fills the house with the same amazing aromas as it did the first time we enjoyed it so many years ago. this is one of those dishes that looks like it’s taken many hours to prepare,  but is actually very easy to make. sometimes it tends to be slightly bitter (which we like)- if you want to avoid this, leave the citrus skin out completely. the original recipe calls for preserved lemons which we substituted (and continue to) with fresh lemons. if you like preserved lemons, go ahead and use them (keep in mind they can be salty, so adjust your salt)- and please share some pictures with us!  today i’m making enough for a gathering of eight, and serving it with steamed basmati rice- it’s also good with oven roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes (see recipe for mashed potatoes), or good home made french fries:)

prep time: 20 minutes
cook time: 1 1/2 hours

ingredients:

  • 10-12 pieces of skinless organic chicken or 3 cornish game hens, halved or quartered
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves
  • 1 small sliver ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • sea salt & pepper to taste- cayenne pepper optional if you like your food spicy
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1 orange (optional)
  • about 20-25 (not pitted) good green or red (or combination) olives
  • small bunch of thyme
  • small bunch fresh cilantro
  • saffron (a few strands) optional

1. peel the citrus (i like to leave some of the skin on, but this may make your dish slightly bitter), and slice in them in 1 inch thick slices. grate a thin sliver of fresh ginger (use a microplane grater), cube the onion, finely mince the garlic, and clean and prep your chicken, removing any extra fat.
2. in a deep skillet heat up the oil and add the onions, garlic, and ginger, sautee for about 2 minutes, then add the cumin and turmeric and combine well before adding your chicken to the pot.
3. sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and brown on both sides for about a minute or two each. add the slices of lemons (reserve one lemon for later) and olives to the top, sprinkle with a few fresh thyme leaves, and reduce the heat to med/low.

4. if you have to, add just a 1/4 cup of water, close the lid (not too tightly) and let it simmer for at least a good hour (preferably 1 1/2 hours). after about an hour, add the remaining lemon slices (adjust quantities to your taste-cut the citrus in half if you don’t want it too sour), and the saffron (ground or seeped in warm water for about 1/2 to 1 hour) and let it simmer more.
5. you want to serve this chicken when your onions are almost melted-there should be very little liquid left. sprinkle with fresh cilantro (or flat leaf parsley) and serve.
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*this dish came about today thanks to the (incredible) generosity of my lemon trees this year:

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