It's early July and the much anticipated summer vegetables like tomatoes are beginning to ripen. I'm told that last week at Union Square Market in New York, the most popular stand was a purveyor of hydroponically grown greenhouse tomatoes since most farms in the area don't have tomatoes ready to sell. We all want those tomatoes unnaturally early since summer doesn't feel like summer without them. The challenge in eating locally is to understand that you just can't have what you want when you want it even though it was conditioned in you for most of your life to expect tomatoes and garden salsa by June or July. The only way you come to appreciate this truly, of course, is to grow it yourself and witness the entire process from seed to harvest. What I do focus on as I hanker for that tomato salsa is to work with what I have in abundance for it won't be too long before I will be drowing in tomatoes and had enough of them for the season.
On the herb front, my flat leaf Italian parsley has been feeding me since the late spring mostly as chopped garnishes, tiny additions to my main meal, or juiced with kale into green shakes. Now that there is more growing than I can handle I'm trying to find ways in which parsley becomes the centerpiece to a dish and not a minor component.
Parsley is packed powerhouse of health. Oftentimes it's added to detox regimens because it is high in chlorophyll and acts as a mild diuretic and laxative. It's volatile oils contain high amounts of Vit K, C, thiamine, riboflavin and carotenes in addition to the flavanoids and antioxidants apigenin, apiol, and myristicin. Some of these have anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Many cultures use parsley as a digestive aid and in combating garlic breath. Try eating a sprig of parsley the next time you consume a lot of garlic - it neutralizes the odor!
One classic parsley salad is Tabbouleh. I like the authentic Lebanese version where parlsey dominates the salad rather than the Americanized version that has a higher proprtion on bulgur or cracked wheat. And now that I have these gorgeous heirloom Boothby Blonde cucumbers and the start of a few tomatoes coming in, this was the perfect recipe of the day.
RECIPE: Lebanese Tabbouleh
1/2 cup bulgur, fine or medium cracked wheat. Dont use the large variety
juice of 4 lemons
3 bunches fresh parsley, finely chopped (leaves only)
handful fresh mint, thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes, diced
6 green onions, thinly sliced (with green stems) - I used chives since I have so much growing
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
(optional addition: though the authentic Lebanese recipe does not call for cucumbers, I couldn't resist adding them in for another texture and crunch in the salad. Plus I had an abundance of beautiful heirloom Boothyby Blonde Cucumbers....
1. Soak bulgur in the juice of 2 lemons until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. If you are using medium grade bulgur you may need to soak it in hot water but make sure the final product is DRY.
2. Combine chopped parsley, slivered mint leaves, scallions and tomatoes with the bulgur.
3. Add remaining juice of 2 lemons and add olive oil, salt to taste and mix once again.
Eat with romaine or cabbges leaves or just by itself. Delish!
Adapted from the website Nutrition Unplugged