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Spring Tabbouleh with Green Harissa

(First, some great good news: I’m a finalist in Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards! If you wouldn’t mind taking a moment to vote, I’d be so honored. Voting closes next Wednesday, April 9th. Thank you!)

When I was in school, I had a really hard time with critiques. It’s kind of a cornerstone of the art school experience and it loomed large in my mental landscape. There’s a lot of mythology around the value of critiques: how they prepare you to be able to speak about your work, how they throw you in at the deep end so that you learn to survive later, in that less kind real world, how you learn to grow a thick skin and receive criticism with a modicum of grace. None of that was true for me. I was way, way too sensitive, and it took me three years to learn how to speak about my work, and I did not learn how to effectively field criticism. Nor did I find that feedback outside of school was less kind. Instead it has been more kind.

Spring Tabbouleh with Green Harissa

This isn’t to say that I don’t see the value in a thoughtful critique or in receiving challenging feedback. It was just the context of the program I was in: often there wasn’t a lot of thought about the delivery and the remarks were guided by the first person to offer feedback; it would set a negative or a positive tone. What I have learned since is that we can choose to see the good in something, or we can choose to see the bad. There’s no accounting for taste, as they say. To see the good or the bad in any kind of creative work is a choice.

Spring Tabbouleh with Green Harissa

My last semester there, I decided to kind of own my critique. I loved the work that I had made so much, and I really fucking believed in it. So I went into that final critique and just made it a positive experience. My own enthusiasm was reflected in the feedback – I could see how that confidence quietly persuaded people out of a knee-jerk default towards negativity to one of curiosity and positivity and interest. It was a really powerful experience.

Spring Tabbouleh with Green Harissa

I’m thinking about all of this lately because I’m starting to ramp up the planning for my book tour. (!!!) And those critiques are really my only point of reference for standing in front of people and talking about my work. I had a period of panic – the shy, introverted part of me nearly convinced me to just not do a tour, not step outside of my comfort zone, not stand in front of a group of strangers stricken with panic and forgetting how to speak.

But I realized that there’s a striking difference: these events in support of my book aren’t about finding the faults in the work. They’re about celebrating a shared passion for cooking, and vegetables, and color, and farmers markets, and seasonality. They’re about community; this is where I get to emerge from the intensely private place where that book was made, and connect with y’all, face to face. And I’m really excited about that. It feels like the reward for the work that has been done. I’ll probably still be nervous, and I still have no idea what to talk about, but I’m figuring that out.

Spring Tabbouleh with Green Harissa

adapted from Food and Wine by way of Sprouted Kitchen

For a long time I was trying to work out a creative take on tabbouleh, one that used quinoa instead of bulgur and was flexible with the veggies and the herbs. But what I kept making fell flat. When I pulled this together last week, I had envisioned it as more of a grain salad than anything else. But tasting it, I realized that this was the tabbouleh that I was after. It stretches the definition of tabbouleh, sure, but it hangs on to its core elements: the generous parsley, the bright lemon tang, the grain that holds it together, the brightness. I love what both Sara and Ashley have done with the harissa; it’s a testament to the versatility of this bright, vivid sauce.

For the tabbouleh:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1.5 cups water
2 cups asparagus, sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups carrots, sliced diagonally into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups quartered radishes
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the harissa:
1 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 or 2 jalapeños, coarsely chopped, and seeded if desired
Juice of one lemon
1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine the quinoa and 1.5 cups water with a little sea salt in a small pot. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook until water is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

While the quinoa cooks, roast the veggies. Toss them with the tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until browned and just cooked, about 20 minutes. Toss once or twice to cook evenly.

Prepare the harissa. In a food processor, combine the parsley, cilantro, mint, jalapeño, lemon juice, cumin, fennel and sea salt. Pulse once or twice to combine. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil. Combine until a coarse paste has formed.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the quinoa and veggies with the harissa. I used all of it. You may want to start with 3/4 of the sauce and taste to see. Serve at room temp.

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - This is so freaking perfect for Spring. I love it!!ReplyCancel

  • Eileen - This tabbouleh sound fantastic! I love all the crunchy, vibrant veg and the kick of the harissa. Yay!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - You got this girl. I feel like I’m preparing for the launch of my book with my boxing gloves on gearing up to hear where I screwed up the metrics or where I over shared. But you are so right, it’s about coming together to celebrate a shared passion. And you have much to celebrate. What a ton of work! and now you get to share it with all of us. I can’t wait.
    And yea for green harissa!ReplyCancel

  • Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health - congratulations!!! green harissa sounds really good and perfect for the Spring. Pinning this for later.ReplyCancel

  • cheri - Congrats on your nomination! gorgeous salad, love everything about it!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn - Totally love your approach to the book tour; I know your book is going to be an absolute roaring success and I think a lot of that will be done to your attitude and spirit which I’m sure will flow through every word and photograph.ReplyCancel

  • SG - Hooray! Congratulations on the nomination – voted!!! and really hope that you win!

    See you and meet you on your book tour!ReplyCancel

  • sara forte - We go through phases of sauces and dressings around here and this is the current one. My bunches of cilantro and parsley in my CSA are GIGANTIC, so every tuesday I make a huge batch and we put it on everything. I havent been cooking much lately so a big batch of something like this would be ideal to have in the fridge to eat at my leisure. Looks gorgeous. PS You will be so much better on your book tour than you expect, I know it. First one is a doozy and then you’ll warm up to the whole idea, grasping that we’re all just people who love good food. No one expects you to be perfect. Sending hugs!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - This looks, and I bet tastes, amazing! Congrats on your nomination–I’m betting you will rock your book tour :)ReplyCancel

  • yossy - I can’t wait to see your book and see you on the road!ReplyCancel

  • Leslie - Definitely Not Martha - This looks really good. Love the green take on the harissa and the beautiful contrast with the radishes, carrots and asparagus. Gorgeous photos and I’m definitely pinning this recipe for later. Good luck for the awards and congrats on the nom!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - This is a gorgeous salad, no matter what you call it. Can’t wait to make it when asparagus starts showing up at our local markets. Congrats on your Saveur nomination. How exciting!ReplyCancel

  • Millie// addalittle - Looks delicious and your photography is amazing!
    Love the look of your website to :)ReplyCancel

  • Christina @ but i'm hungry - Oh, tabouleh is one of my favorite things in the world… and these vegetables… oh my. Beautiful. You can stretch the definition of tabouleh all you want when the finished product looks like that…ReplyCancel

  • Robyn - I know we’ve never met but I can’t help thinking you invented this recipe Just For Me… Yes? It’s got my name on it :-)ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - I think constructive criticism can be an important tool, but I’ve noticed that if you start from a negative place, it fosters more negativity. It’s a tricky thing! I have a feeling that your book tour will be surrounded by warm positivity for all you’ve accomplished. This salad sounds fantastic!!ReplyCancel

  • erin @ yummy supper - Kimberley, I can’t wait for your “book tour” – count on me to be there at one of your events, for sure.
    And yes, I so agree as an introvert it’s hard to put oneself out there, but people will be so excited to meet you and to share the positivity,passion,and deliciousness you’ve infused into your book.
    Go lady go!

  • Maui Girl Cooks - Congrats on being a finalist in the Saveur blog awards! I love your blog and am particularly interested in making the green harissa, just as soon as my cilantro gets bigger. Or maybe I will just buy some at the farmers market. I’ve made red, but not green-those flavors are right up my alley. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Brooke Evans - Sorry I missed the voting but if I had’ve known about your awesome blog earlier I definitely would’ve voted for you. This dish looks amazing and I just have to make this. ThanksReplyCancel

  • Brooke Evans - Sorry%20I%20missed%20the%20voting%20but%20if%20I%20had’ve%20known%20about%20your%20awesome%20blog%20earlier%20I%20definitely%20would’ve%20voted%20for%20you.%20%20This%20dish%20looks%20amazing%20and%20I%20just%20have%20to%20make%20this.%20%20ThanksReplyCancel

  • Dara McMains - I have posted a link to your page on my own!! I love your dishes and wanted to share!

    Please check it out and thank you so much for sharing your beautiful dishes!!ReplyCancel

  • Christine - I know you wrote this up a while ago now, but I just came across it today and wanted to comment on what a beautiful dish it is! I love the green harissa blend and I cannot wait to try it out!ReplyCancel

  • Paige - This green harissa… wow. This is so, so delicious. I have fallen in love with it and plan to put it on salmon very, very soon. This salad is versatile- we didn’t have the exact grain or vegetables, but it was amazing with what we had and will be yummy all year around with whatever is in season. Thank you for my new favorite weeknight dinner!ReplyCancel

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