Lebanese Summer Salad

When the world seems like it’s coming apart, friendship and food can be inspiring comfort ~ and our Summer Ayurveda Class on Sunday was just that.

We sipped Watermelon Smoothies while talking about Ayurveda, Nutrition, Doshas, Summer needs and Summer foods, moved to Cucumber Soup as an Interlude, then whipped up a round-the-world fiesta, with salads and dishes from Asia, Lebanon, Mexico and India, for our Sunday lunch.

What united these foods from so many regions?

It was all made by such beautiful, loving women…

And you could taste the ancient wisdom embedded in all of these dishes with flavors as old as nature herself.

There is a thread of oneness that runs through it all…

Lemons, limes, cilantro and seeds, vibrant color and texture, and the tastes of sweet, bitter, astringent are shared in summer dishes from around the world ~ just as liberté, égalité, fraternité are human ideals recurrent in all sustainable world cultures. It is reassuring to remember and something to celebrate when we gather.

One of the beauties helping us celebrate was the Lebanese Salad which, on most summer days when you are not circumnavigating the globe in the comfort of your own kitchen, would be a meal, a world, unto itself.

We used the softest, creamiest goat’s cheese, and a raw, sprouted chickpea hummus that made it feel as if you were tasting sunlight streaking through Lebanon’s ancient Cedar Forests.

LEBANESE SALAD
Serves: 2, generously

1 carton organic mesclun greens
1 cube of Feta Cheese
1 ear raw corn, kernels removed
1/2 cup hummus
1 cup sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large lemon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Fresh Mint
Sumac, thyme, oregano, pine nuts

Combine mesclun leaves, corn, snap peas, cherry tomatoes and feta into a large salad bowl. Toss well. Add the herbs, juice from one large lemon and the olive oil. Toss again. Divide the salad between two bowls and scoop 1/4 cup of hummus on top of each salad.

The next day I tossed the salad over warm Thai noodles. Lebanon & Thailand? What do they have in common? Warm, wise, beautiful people!

Besides, the flavors of the salad had grown into each other and, because the weather had turned cold, it was perfect with the sweet comfort of warm noodles.

Thank you all who attended Sunday’s class. You are all so wise, intelligent, healthy, knowledgable and lovely to be with. Even you “troublemakers” ~

Urban Food & Gourmet, at the corner of Fern and 30th, opens this week. They will be carrying my Ayurvedic line of specialty foods: Maha Shakti Detox (Vegan) Protein Powder, Rejuvenating Jam (my twist on Chyavanprash), Organic Split Mung Beans, Seasonal Masalas,  Brahmi Bark (a Brain Tonic Chocolate Bar) and eventually Moksha Pies – Moksha means free and these pies are gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, bake-free, and utterly liberating in every way.

I will have these products online soon! Will let you know.

With love ~

Namaste!

Summer Beans & Greens

Mint

I find it peaceful to write and so was relieved to finally have the time to write on Ayurveda & the Summer Season and get it published to my Blog. It is full of tips for maintaining balance in what is turning it out to be an especially hot season. You can find it here on the Seasons page.

Meanwhile, I had a great lunch yesterday that I also want to share, by way of a little explanation:

In both Spring and Summer I focus on beans and greens. The difference is that in the Spring meals are hot and spicy, whereas in Summer we enjoy cooling vegetables and fresh seasonings that aid digestion without heating the body ~ things like mint, cilantro, dill and fennel.

Cilantro

So, with a few tweaks, this recipe for Tofu with Snap Peas from Whole Living magazine (more and more a great resource for vegetarian meals) is ideal for summer. I simply replaced the red pepper with fresh, chopped mint from the garden, sprinkled the whole dish with the juice of one lime and garnished with a copious dose of chopped cilantro. I also replaced the sugar with maple syrup.

~

Cilantro is so incredibly cleansing, balancing and cooling that we add it to almost everything in our home. We are fortunate because we were just given a generous handful of cilantro seeds, aka Coriander, for our garden. We use a lot of coriander in our cooking, grinding the seeds from whole, so we are familiar with these beautiful balloon-shaped gems. Still, holding this gift in my hands, I couldn’t help but marvel at the intelligence, the deliciousness, the potency and the medicine within.

Coriander Seeds

We have a perfect spot for them – a place where we were growing sunflowers, until someone thought they were weeds and yanked the newborns right out. It was the next day before I noticed they were gone. I cried on the spot. It was as if something had been ripped out of me and tossed away. Considered useless, ugly, a waste.

Preparing to Plant

Silly, I know, but I had nurtured the sunflower plants from seeds, soaking them first, transferring them to the ground, watching over and cultivating them carefully, protecting them from our neighborhood’s stalking ravens, researching their power to purify soil, and then writing a whole blog about it…

The Sunflower Seeds, before their demise

But Coriander seeds blossoming into Cilantro will fill the gaping emptiness and restore our garden to whole. And then one day, before summer is over, we’ll be able to make Tofu and Snap Peas with our own home-grown Cilantro.

Our Food Garden

Nature’s exquisite cycle of renewal is the reminder I need today, that we, too, are nature and our powers of regeneration are every bit as great.

Hope you are enjoying your summer.

Namaste ~