Cittee’s Taboola

A hearty and delicious Lebanese Salad

Whenever my Lebanese grandma, Cittee, would come to town, or we would make the journey to Texas, my brother’s and I always have a very long list of dinner requests. Taboola always topped my list because I knew it was a labor of love to create, mostly because every family member loves it so much, we have to make extremely large batches. Fortunately, we were always willing to pitch in and chop the vegetables. I can remember my mom, brothers, dad, Aut Carolin and cousin Kaitlyn all spread out around the kitchen with a cutting board and knife, helping to prepare the salad.

While the ingredients are very simple, Taboola is best when all the vegetables are cut to the same size.  Prepare to spend a little quality time chopping or ask a friend or family member to grab a cutting board and help you out!

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Ingredients:

  • 5 large cucumbers, pealed with seeds removed
  • 3 bunches green onion
  • 4 bunches of flat leaf parsley
  • 2-3 bunches or packages of fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup bulgar wheat
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp Citric acid
  • Bulgar (size 1 or 2)

Citric acid is a product of lemons and limes, it’s the same stuff you’ll find dusted on the outside of sour gummy worms. This powder is very sour, so a little bit goes a long way. If you cannot find citric acid, lemon juice will also work but the powder will help to prevent the salad from becoming too soupy.

Straining the tomatoes after they are diced and removing the seeds from the cucumber will also help to reduce the moister in your Tooblah. A drier salad will be fresher for longer in your fridge.

Flat-leaf or Italian parsley is very important. Curly leaf parsley, the kind you’ll find as a garnish at many restaurants, is not as flavorful and tends to kind of get stuck in your throat. Flat-leaf parsley will make for a not chokey salad. 

The whole-wheat bulgar in the salad makes it hardy enough to enjoy as a light meal or a lovely accompaniment to any main dish

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Directions:

Soak bulgar in 2 cups of boiled water, set aside.

Peel cucumbers with a potato peeler, cut the ends off and then slice them in half length-wise. Using a knife, remove the seeds and then slice each half into three pieces length-wise and dice into small pieces.

Dice tomatoes into small pieces (similar to the size of your cucumber pieces and set aside in a colander in the sink to drain the extra juices.

Remove the tips from the green onion and dice the white and light parts. Mince parsley and mint.

Combine all produce in a large bowl.

Strain extra liquid from bulgar and add to the bowl.

Sprinkle citiric acid, olive oil salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Add more citirc acid, salt and/or pepper to taste. The salad should be slightly tart.

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Mamma’s Tomato Soup

Simple & delicious

My momma makes some of the best soup on the planet. Whenever I was sick as a child or recovering from surgery, she would make a new and exciting soup.. Her rustic tomato soup, or Papa al’ Pomodoro with a grilled cheese sandwich is one of my most favorite meals.

The recipe is incredibly simple and inexpensive. Fresh or canned tomatoes will both work beautifully, depending upon the time of year. For this batch I used a mixture of both. Fresh basil is a must, however, because dried basil is not very flavorful.

The best thing about soup is that it can be made in big batches, frozen and enjoyed whenever you need a quick meal. Even when I’m cooking for just myself, I’ll make a enough soup to serve a family and freeze the excess in little single-serve containers to enjoy later. This recipe should make enough to feed 5-6 people or one person for several meals.
tomato soup

Ingredients

  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs. tomatoes (canned or fresh), pealed
  • 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4-5 bunches of basil leaves, removed and chopped and divided into two parts
  • Bay leaf
  • Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

To remove peal from fresh tomatoes drop them into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds and remove, the skin should peel off easily.

A rind of Parmesan imparts a delicious richness to any soup, but if you don’t have one on hand, this recipe tastes delicious without it.

Directions

Over medium heat, cook onions and celery in the olive oil until the onions begin to brown. Add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes, be careful not to let the garlic get too brown. Add the tomatoes and broth.

Puree the soup contents using either an immersion blender, or by carefully portioning the contents into a traditional blender.  If you are using a traditional blender, carefully hold down the lid using a tea towel to prevent the hot liquid from leaking.

Add bay leaf, cream, half of the basil and Parmesan rind and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

To serve, sprinkle some fresh basil on top and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.