Middle Eastern Feast

Dear friends of ours are getting married this fall. I have the honor of helping coordinate the wedding feast. Because the bride grew up in Jerusalem, they are choosing a Middle Eastern theme for dinner. 

Here are some recipes from the feast, which are perfect for cooling summer heat. They will tantalize your senses and get your creative juices flowing.

Tabbouleh

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups bulghur wheat*

  • 2 cups boiling water

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 3 teaspoons salt

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 1/2 cups minced scallions

  • 1 1/4 cups chopped fresh mint leaves

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 2 cucumber, unpeeled and diced

  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

*You can substitute cooked quinoa for a gluten-free version of this salad.

Place the bulghur in a large serving bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir, then allow to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh marinates for a few hours.

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Watermelon Mint Feta Salad

You will need:

  • One 8 pound (approximately) watermelon

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 limes, juiced

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 cup fresh chopped mint leaves

  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

Chop the watermelon, remove the seeds, and place in a colander to drain.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt, and black pepper to create a dressing.

Place watermelon in a large salad bowl. Pour dressing and chopped mint over the watermelon and toss gently to coat. Crumble the feta over the top ans stir gently to incorporate all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Israeli Salad

This salad is delicious served with feta and olives or pita bread.

You will need:

  • 3 cups Roma tomatoes, diced (about 5 tomatoes)

  • 2 cups cucumbers, diced (about 2 cucumbers)

  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, diced (about 1 pepper)

  • 1 cup Italian parsley, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons green onion, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Toss together all ingredients in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

This salad's flavors improve when given a few hours to marinate. Prepare it mid-day to serve at dinner.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

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Honoring My Gastronomic Roots

Today and every day, I celebrate my Italian gastronomic heritage. The traditional values of growing, foraging, cooking and eating with which I was raised filled me with reverence for food.

This fullness stayed with me throughout the years of exposure to highly processed corporate food during my high school and college years after I moved to the United States.

Dormant until the moment I would resource it, this nourishment allowed me to to heal myself with food as medicine when I was crippled by chronic intestinal amoebas. Now, I am in service to the foods, plants, and traditions that healed me. I honor the healers and health care practitioners who mediated my healing and supported me on my own path of self-discovery.

Not only did I heal myself of chronic amoebas, but I also re-connected with my deepest sources of nourishment, which are ancestral ones steeped in mindfulness.

What are your gastronomic roots? How can you celebrate them? Tomorrow, December 10th, is Slow Food International's Terra Madre Day: the day of mother earth.

Join people all over the globe who are celebrating local food and heritage. Here in Vermont's state capitol of Montpelier, the New England Culinary Institute's students will offer a cooking demonstration of Vermont foods.

Before the colonists came to this region, Abenaki people celebrated gastronomic traditions, which endure today thanks to the revival efforts of the indigenous peoples' Haven Project and Seeds of Renewal.
Fred Wiseman and many more Abenaki guide the movement to revive and honor indigenous seeds, crops, and cooking.

If you are inspired, please leave comments here about your ancestral foods and how you honor them.

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