I may be a little food obsessed, but when I think about summer, the first things that come to mind are the sweet berries and juicy tomatoes. Someday, I might turn into a berry. Seriously. I can eat so many of them, you really wouldn't believe it. Part of the reason I enjoy stuffing myself silly is that I basically never buy summer produce if it's not in season.
Eating seasonally is something that few of us consider. Avocadoes, pineapples, lemongrass, you name it, is at our fingertips. Despite the convenience, it honestly rarely occurs to me to buy basil in the winter or strawberries in the fall. Perfectly ripe, heirloom tomatoes, at the peak of their season have more flavor than I have words to describe. (Heirloom basically just means an older variety that is no longer conventionally grown on large farms). Winter-time tomatoes picked green and artificially ripened taste like cardboard to me in comparison. Just not worth it. Same goes for peaches, plums, berries, melons, zucchini, eggplant, and probably others that I'm forgetting. Don't get me wrong, if someone serves me any of these foods, I will enjoy them with delight any time of year. But when thinking through my own menus, it's so worth it to me to wait for the sweet, juicy flavors of summer.
So, when summer finally comes around, I go a little crazy. I walk around looking like a little kid with fingers stained bluish/purplish from all the berries, and snacking on tomatoes like apples.
The recipe below is probably a far cry from a traditional tabbouleh salad, so I like to call it "tabbouleh-inspired." What I'm really after is a quick, simple salad that highlights the fresh summer flavors, and makes an impressive potluck dish- very important!
- 4 cups cooked whole grain couscous (At Trader Joe's, it costs ~$2 and cooks in 2 min!)
- 4 bunches of fresh parsley, finely chopped (yeah, it's a lot and you won't regret it)
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 4 large cucumbers, diced (no need to peel, if you ask me)
- 6 small to medium heirloom tomatoes (some of my favorites include green zebras, black krims, and brandywines. If you can't find heirlooms, just look for locally grown, in season varities).
- Juice from 3-4 lemons, depending on how large and juicy they are, and how strong you like the lemon flavor
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
Toss it all together in a large bowl. I like it best chilled in the fridge 20-30 minutes. Dig in!
Don't be afraid to munch on those tomatoes while you chop :)