For a short stint in middle school, I raced for the track and field team. We were a small crew, five scrappy kids representing a student body of 120. Whatever event needed a warm body, one or more of us joined in. Long jump, discus throwing, 400m relay, 100m solo, I tried them all, but I found my track and field happy place in the 1/2-mile and 1-mile course.
By the mid-90s I’d shrugged off my runner’s gear ($8 white canvas tennis shoes and cotton shorts that chafed) for discontented grunge attire. Most important to my new high school identity was never being without a book of poetry and avoiding physical activity at all costs. It wasn’t until college that I bought a bicycle and cruised my way into adulthood, and it wouldn’t be until my second year of grad school that I huffed my way through the first mile I’d run in twelve years. But running stuck again, and all these years later, I’m still at it, getting outside several times a week for runs wherever I happen to be.
More than anything, running has been exercise of physical and mental endurance, a part of how I define myself as an adult. I never thought about it much when I was 12 or 13, but when things were going very badly at home, running was a way to clear my head, to focus on the immediacy of each step forward. I couldn’t fix my parents’ marriage or my poor relationship with my brother, but I could bend in to the wind and alight toward a finish line that could be counted on.
I’ve been getting in as many good runs as possible this summer in the Denver area. Short lunchtime runs to break up the day and longer trail runs on the weekends, and though I watch how many simple carbs I eat for health reasons, I make sure to include plenty of whole grains into my diet, particularly leading up to a long-run day.
Below you’ll find a great tabouleh salad recipe from last month’s Bon Appétit recipe. Unlike most of the tabouleh recipes I’ve tried, this one balances the bulgur wheat with plenty of greens. I’d never eaten tabouleh that includes shredded green cabbage in its ingredients list, but after eating a few bowls of this dish, I’ll be sticking with the wheat to greens ratio for future variation on this recipe.
Tomato and Cabbage Tabbouleh
(Adapted from a Bon Appétit recipe)
– 1 cup bulgur (not quick-cooking)
– 1/2 medium head green cabbage, cut into 1”-thick wedges, then very thinly sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
– 1 small sweet onion (such as Vidalia), finely chopped
– 4 cups assorted small tomatoes, halved, quartered if large
– 3 cups coarsely chopped fresh mint
– ¾ cup olive oil
– ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
– 1 tsp Aleppo Pepper or 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
– Kosher salt
1. Place bulgur in a large bowl and add 1½ cups boiling water. Let soak until softened and water is absorbed, 40–45 minutes.
2. Toss bulgur, cabbage, onion, tomatoes, mint, oil, lemon juice, and Aleppo pepper in a large bowl to combine; season with salt.
DO AHEAD: Tabbouleh (without oil and lemon juice) can be made 4 hours ahead. Toss with oil and lemon juice just before serving.