This Mediterranean-inspired lunch is so satisfying, nonvegetarians may not even notice that no meat is involved. I served this to a group of Buddhists on retreat and it was well-received. Even if no Buddhists will be dining at your table, this easy-to-put-together meal is well adapted to warm days when you don’t want to do much cooking. Basically, it’s a Greek Salad (salad greens, feta cheese, kalamata olives, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, in this case, a basil vinaigrette dressing), with tabouli, hummus and whole wheat pita bread. The success of this meal depends on superior ingredients: real olives, quality cheese, in season, ripe tomatoes. Prep everything just at mealtime. Hint: keep a jar of tahini (roasted sesame butter) in the fridge. Think of it as butter for people who don’t eat butter. It comes in ever so handy when a dish needs the flavor boost of added richness, as little as a teaspoon can do the trick. In this menu, tahini appears in the hummus, which you can easily make if you have canned organic chick peas on hand…Just put the chick peas in a food processor and process along with a bit of tahini, a clove of garlic, a little pinch of cumin and salt and a sprinkle of lemon juice, all to taste. If you purchase hummus, it can almost always be greatly improved by stirring in a spoonful or more of tahini. Tabouli can be quickly made at home as well, using whole wheat couscous:
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 cup boiling water
1 bunch parsley, trimmed and minced
leaves from 1 bunch fresh mint, minced
2-3 green onions, trimmed and minced
olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper
optional: 1 medium tomato, diced
optional: 1/4-1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds, or pine nuts or slivered almonds, for added texture
1. Put the couscous in a medium-sized serving bowl, add a tiny pinch of salt and the boiling water. Cover and let sit 3-4 minutes.
2. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil, and fluff up the couscous with a fork. Allow to cool.
3. When cool, add the parsley, mint and green onions and mix everything well. Add a little sprinkle of fresh lemon juice, taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt, pepper, lemon juice or a little more olive oil, as needed. Add the tomato, seeds or nuts, if using, just before serving.