Feast of the Middle East

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Makes 2 cups

1 15 oz can chickpeas
1/3 cup sesame tahini (available at Middle Eastern grocery stores – choose MidEast or Tarazi brands)
4-5 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
olive oil for drizzling
paprika and chopped parsley for garnish

Drain chickpeas, reserving the chickpea liquid.  Place in a food processor with the sesame tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt.  Process until smooth, adding reserved chickpea liquid, a tablespoon at a time to achieve a smooth consistency. Spread on a plate and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with paprika and chopped parsley.  Serve with pita chips and assorted fresh vegetables for dipping. 

Variations: Add to processor and pulse when hummus is almost smooth. 
1.  1/2 cup roasted red peppers OR
2.  1 diced jalapeno and 1/3 cup cilantro
Makes 6-8 servings

2 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes
 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 large onion, diced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp dried basil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Place chicken cubes in a sealable gallon bag.  Place remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk together thoroughly.  Pour over chicken cubes, seal bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight.  Turn bag occasionally to redistribute marinade.  Remove chicken from marinade, skewer and grill until cooked through.  Do not overcook.    

Makes 6 cups
1/2 cup fine or medium bulgur wheat
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 large bunches parsley (or parsley to equal 4 cups chopped)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 cup diced onion, or 2-3 scallions chopped
1 tbsp dried mint or 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place bulgur in a large bowl and stir in lemon juice.  Set aside while preparing  vegetables so bulgur will absorb the lemon juice.

Remove stems from parsley and rinse thoroughly.  Roll in a towel and press to remove most of the moisture (dry parsley is easier to chop).  Finely chop the parsley with a large sharp knife.  A processor can be used for this step if the blade is very sharp.  Chop in small batches, pulse rapidly and do not over-process. 

Transfer parsley to the bowl with the soaked bulgur and add the remaining ingredients.  Toss to mix.  Refrigerate for one hour or up to 3 hours before serving.