I strongly believe that all areas of life should be inspired by art. Maybe not in the traditional sense when you think of it, but anything with an artistic and creative base. This roots from my upbringing in a household of artists, exposing me to original oils and watercolors on the walls by my grandmother and mother, art classes and innovative summer art camps led by my mother, and photography sessions with my dad to perfect the observant eye. Will also grew up in an artistic family, tracing back to his great-grandparents who all met in art school and went on to do marketing design for the auto industry, to his grandmother who has her own original art displayed around her charming home in Santa Barbara, to his aunt who is a professional artist (and I think some of you may actually have some of her coloring books – her current professional medium; her son is also a professional artist), his other aunt who’s art was done through jewelry and purse-making from kimonos which one of her daughters has now adopted, to his own mother who produces art in several mediums, most recently through felting and watercolor.
These influences have really made themselves apparent as we are decorating our new apartment. It lends itself well with open walls and tall ceilings, allowing us to get creative with what we feature and what we define as “art” these days. We’re trying to strike a balance between my desire for bright, colorful, whimsical areas with Will’s clean lines, simplistic modern style. So when we were trying to determine what to call our style, we kept coming back to “artistic” – I consider even the color of the paint on the walls to be a choice made to enhance the space in a tasteful, pleasing manner. The way we have our clothes displayed is artistic, not crowded in a dingy closet. We’re trying to create art from everyday objects.
Food, in its own way, is art. Art is the creation of something -whatever form you choose. I consider Will and artist in the kitchen and I’m an amateur artist behind the camera. We try to keep it creative, fun and inspiring, just like art should be!
But enough with the philosophical hodge podge. Most of you are here for the recipe! I hope you like garlic, because it’s about to punch you in the face. This is a recipe I made easily over a year ago and never made again for Will because there are so many other things out there to try. When we were looking for a lunch salad that was quick, budget-friendly and filling, this popped into my head and I insisted on making it again since Will missed out the first time. You may review the recipe and photos and wonder where the falafel is – it’s the flavor of the dressing. Tricky tricky! But it’s so convincing that you almost don’t miss the slight crunch of perfect deep-fried falafel. I recommend you treat yourself to a whole nuther level when you make this by picking up some Kumato tomatoes. They are one of my favorite treats and it has been so long since we’ve had tomatoes that we bought some Kumatos as a treat – I’m so glad we did. That enhanced this salad more than an normal Roma, which could get soggy – the Kumatos hold their texture well and don’t let the juiciness overtake the salad. Flag this recipe to make when you need either a hint of summer freshness in the dead of winter OR when spring/summertime rolls around and you’re wanting to try your next grain salad recipe.
Preparation Notes: We doubled the recipe to last us both the whole week, but the original amounts are reflected below. We couldn’t find bulgur, so we used a grain mix from Trader Joe’s instead – couscous would also work well in place of bulgur. We also added Kumato tomatoes and feta, instead of just regular Romas and no cheese. We also must have added 2 very large garlic cloves because it nearly overwhelmed us in the dressing. Lastly, the original recipes calls for 1/3 cup water but I find that’s too much, so start with 1/4 cup and add as needed.
Falafel Salad (adapted from Budget Bytes; makes 4-6 servings)
1/3 cup tahini
1/4+ cup water
1/4 cup lemon juic
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 bunch cilantro
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup bulgur or couscous or a grain mix
2 small Kumato tomatoes
4 oz. crumbled feta
Begin by making the dressing. Smash the garlic cloves or roughly chop them. Add the garlic, tahini, water, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne and salt to a small food processor or blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and the garlic is in small pieces; refrigerate until ready to use.
Cook your grain according to package directions (most of these take between 15 and 20 minutes unless you’re just doing couscous). Once your grain is done cooking, set it aside to cool.
While your grain cooks, wash the parsley and cilantro, shake dry and pull the leaves from the stems. Roughly chop the leaves and place them in a bowl. Next, dice the tomato and add it to the bowl. Once your grain is ready and cooled, add it as well. When getting ready to serve, mix in crumbled feta and pour tahini dressing over top. Stir well and then enjoy!*
Recipe: Budget Bytes: Falafel Salad
*For packing lunch daily, we keep the feta and dressing separate from the rest of the salad to avoid sogginess.