My parents gave me fresh herbs for my birthday! Have I already told you this was happening? Well, Mom was in town last weekend, so we went shopping for plants and pots, and ended up with a nice little windowsill herb garden featuring dill, German thyme, sweet mint, and chives. In the week I've had them, I've managed to use the mint, chives, and dill, and I have another meal planned for tomorrow that uses more mint and dill. While I like thyme and thought I used it a lot, I'm not having trouble coming up with recipes to use the lovely fresh thyme that's hanging out on my windowsill. If any of you have ideas, please share them!
A great way to use fresh mint is in tabbouleh, a terrific middle-eastern side dish made with bulgur, mint, parsley, lemon juice, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Tabbouleh is filling but light, and tastes incredibly fresh and bright thanks to the fresh herbs and lemon juice. Because of all the chopping, it can take a little while to make, but it's not hard at all--just chop things, cook bulgur, and stir it all up.
Tabbouleh tastes best when it can sit for a few hours to let the flavors blend together. I prepped my ingredients Thursday night, stirred it all together Friday morning, served it Friday night, and it was great. The leftovers were also great today (Saturday) for lunch. Though the herbs darkened (as in the pictures here), the flavor and texture were still quite lovely.
The recipe below calls for 1-1/2 cups each of parsley, mint, and scallions/green onions. I used closer to 1 cup of each but think it would be excellent with the full 1-1/2 cups. Some recipes I saw called for far more parsley than mint, but I like this ratio, especially since the cost of store-bought fresh mint is no longer a consideration.
Adapted from Ina Garten
Yield: 12 servings
1-1/2 cups bulgur
2-1/4 cups water
4 roma tomatoes, diced (2-3 cups)
Juice from 3 lemons (about 3/8 cup juice)
1/4 cup + 1/8 cup olive oil, divided
3-5 tsp. kosher salt
1-1/2 cups sliced scallions (both white and green parts)
1-1/2 cups chopped fresh mint leaves (stems removed)
1-1/2 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 medium to large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 to 1-1/2 tsp. black pepper
Cook bulgur in water according to package directions.* When cooked, stir, remove from heat, and allow to cool completely. Chop the tomatoes and set them in a colander to drain while you chop the rest of the vegetables and herbs.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except 1/8 cup olive oil, and starting with just 3 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. (I used a 4-quart Pyrex bowl, and it was the perfect size.) Use a rubber spatula to mix gently but very well. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors meld. Before serving, add the last 1/8 cup oil. Taste; add more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve chilled or at room temperature. Leftovers keep very well.
*Most tabbouleh recipes I read said to pour boiling water over the bulgur, then let it stand (off the stove) for 30 minutes to 1 hour. I wasn't sure why, and the bulgur I buy only takes 15 minutes to cook, so I opted to follow the package directions.