I used to be a good gardener. Then I signed two three-book mystery contracts, the garden flooded two years in a row, and my strawberry bed began to resemble a central Montana hayfield after fifty-mile winds and hail the size of golf balls.
But this year, I built a new bed and bought two itty bitty cucumber plants. Stuck three tomato starts in pots on the back porch. Bought parsley and thyme, and started basil in egg cartons.
And of course, neglect aside, there is mint. Three varieties. If you’ve ever grown mint, you’re wondering whatever possessed me. In my defense, only one is a planned plant—a lovely, bright green mint called Mojito. (And why, yes, it does make a fine cocktail.) The two unnamed varieties were gifts. (Gardeners are generous with starts. Some have a wicked glint in their eye. In climates like mine, in NW Montana, where herbs won’t survive the winter outside in pots, mint is best planted in large plastic buckets with the bottoms cut out and sunk into the herb bed.)
So, tomatoes, mint, and cukes gave me a craving for tabbouleh. This is basically Ina Garten’s recipe, with a few minor variations. She does a fabulous job with the classics, and this is an easy, yummy example. It’s terrific served on its own or on a bed of sturdy greens, and is a great side dish for kabobs, chicken, or salmon.
Classic Tabbouleh1 cup bulghur wheat (we used red bulghur because we had it; red or white will do)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), scant
1/4 cup olive oil
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup green onions, white and green parts (1 bunch), chopped
1 cup fresh mint leaves (1 bunch, in the grocery store), chopped
1 cup Italian (flat leaf) parsley (1 bunch, in the grocery store), chopped
1 English cucumber or two green slicing cucumbers, unpeeled, diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Add the onions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper; mix well. Season, to taste, and serve or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours.
Serves eight. This recipe keeps nicely in the fridge for 2-3 days, although the salt will draw some liquid off the cucumbers. If it seems like too much to stir in, spoon out as much liquid as you can and stir the rest into the salad.
From the cover of BUTTER OFF DEAD, third in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries: As the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village mysteries continue, the merchants of Jewel Bay, Montana try to heat up chilly winter business with a new film festival. But their plans are sent reeling when a dangerous killer dims the lights on a local mover and shaker …
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