Sunday, September 23, 2018

Portobello Shawarma and Quinoa Tabouleh

I’m always drawn to the flavors of Levantine cooking and the generous use of vegetables in varied dishes. A new book starts with those flavors and adds new ingredients to open up the possibilities of this style of cuisine. The book is Levant: New Middle Eastern Cooking from Tanoreen by Rawia Bishara, and I received a review copy. Her first book, Olives, Lemons, and Za’atar, stuck more closely to traditional recipes, but this time, she explores some new directions as she does at her New York restaurant Tanoreen. What I enjoyed about this book is that it gives you freedom to roam about a bit with traditional dishes. Rather than sticking to how a dish has always been made, new discoveries are celebrated and encouraged. The recipes are still inspired by Middle Eastern cooking but with a new perspective. For instance, the Shakshuka is a green version made with tomatillos, poblanos, and summer squash. Although hummus literally translates to chickpeas, here the concept is expanded into four variations, none of which include chickpeas. And, I can’t wait to try the Avocado Hummus. The Fall Fattoush is a twist on the familiar pita bread salad made with red cabbage, radicchio, and shredded beet. There’s a vegetarian Kibbie made with potatoes and spices that’s served on a lentil stew that looks perfect for a cold, fall day. There are meat dishes too like Harissa Baked Chicken, Tanoreen Spiced Cornish Hens, and Grilled Fish Kabobs. But, I got sidetracked among all the vegetable options and had to try the Portobello Shawarma and Quinoa Tabouleh first. 

This vegan shawarma starts with chopped Portobello mushrooms and lots of spices. The chopped mushrooms were combined with black pepper, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, nutmeg, chopped fresh garlic, olive oil, and white vinegar. The mixture was cooked in a heated skillet until the mushrooms were tender. I was surprised at the amount of vinegar but found that it gave the mixture just the right added flavor. The cooked mixture was intended to be served on fresh pita with sandwich toppings like cucumber, tomatoes, pickles, and tahini sauce. I went in more of an appetizer direction and served the mixture on homemade, baked pita chips, and topped it with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs. The Quinoa Tabouleh is a lot like the traditional dish only with quinoa used in place of bulgur wheat. Diced fennel is suggested along with tomatoes and cucumbers, but since that’s not in season here I used chopped yellow zucchini instead. Lots parsley, cilantro, mint, green onions, and lemon gave it the expected flavors of tabouleh. 

I always like vegetarian dishes like this Portobello Shawarma, but these mushrooms actually caught me by surprise. The spices, garlic, and vinegar gave the mushrooms incredible flavor. They would have made a fantastic sandwich filling and were a fun topping for pita chips. The tabouleh was as fresh and bright as ever but just a little different with quinoa instead of bulgur wheat. It’s inspiring to see new takes like these on traditional dishes, and the results are delicious.

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  1. I love the idea of vegan shawarma and it looks so yummy and comforting, Lisa.

  2. So much flavor! This fabulous recipes bring home the goal of scrumptious vegan meals!

  3. Vegan shawarma! What a NEAT idea! Portobello mushrooms are the perfect choice, too -- they have so much flavor. Sounds like an excellent book -- thanks.

  4. oooh, that tabbouleh is a must-try!

  5. I am loving the idea of vegetarian shawarma...the mushrooms look delicious and the tabbouleh with all the parley and cilantro so flavorful. Thanks for sharing the recipe Lisa! Have a wonderful week!


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