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About a week ago, my sister and I threw my mom a surprise party for her birthday.  It was her big 6-0, although you’d certainly never guess it just by looking at her.  My mom also has the energy of a kid in a candy store, and between the pace of her talking and walking, you’d think she was on a continuous sugar high.

But my mom’s actually the healthiest person I know, and the only sugar in her diet is the occasional piece of dark chocolate.  Instead, I think all that energy just comes naturally from all the daily green smoothies and yoga she’s got going on in her life.  Anyways, for her party, I wanted to make sure tabbouleh was on the table.  It’s a dish she introduced me to that has subsequently become one of my go-to party dishes, especially in the summer when fresh cucumbers and mint are in season.

Tabbouleh is super easy to make, and with all the other food I was whipping up, it was the perfect easy, yet mom-lovable dish for the party.  Plus, tabbouleh always adds a light and healthy option to the table.  Alongside heavy dips and desserts*, this is usually a welcoming sight.  (*I.e, dark chocolate and peanut butter layered cake with peanut butter mousse, banana cheesecake, and chocolate ganache…yes, we went all out to find the perfect cake for my mom.  Oh wait, did I say she wasn’t a fan of sugar?)

Make extra because tabbouleh keeps well and serves as a perfect leftover-composed lunch.  Also, feel free to add any other herbs or produce that’s available into the mix.

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Balsamic Strawberry and Chickpea Tabbouleh

I saw a version of this salad over at Prevention RD about a month ago, and bookmarked it right away. I loved the idea of combining fresh strawberries with fluffed grains.  It’s a collaboration I hadn’t really thought of before.  This, of course, is why I love food blogs.  They provide such a boost of creative inspiration! Oh, and often salvation-inciting pictures too.

The original recipe taken from Newly Wed, Newly Veg uses brown rice, and then Nicole from Prevention RD swapped that out with couscous for an extra quick salad.  I didn’t have couscous on hand, so I went with bulgur wheat, the classic grain used for tabbouleh.  It too cooks up pretty quickly, and the results of this have made me think I should start testing out other kinds of fruit in my go-to picnic item. (Which reminds me, if strawberries fly out of season before you get to try this, experiment by replacing them with cherries instead.)

I added some mint to the recipe, since my mint crop is currently playing the role of Stimpy while my scrawny-looking basil is unfortunately being forced into the Ren role.  I also veganized the grain salad by exchanging the goat cheese for cashews.  To bring out the flavor in the nuts, simply toast up raw cashews in a pan over high heat, stirring frequently, until the outer edges become brown.

So there you have it, a unique collaboration of ingredients brought together by a collaboration of bloggers.  (Thanks girls for the awesome idea!)

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