Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mystery mints

Gardening in pots is much easier than tilling the garden this year while I have a nursing baby. So, here's a photo of my potted mints which seem to always lose their labels, leaving me wondering which is Spearmint and which is Peppermint. So, I googled up botanical photos on the web and now I know the difference - the smoother leaves on the left side of this photo are Peppermint and the wrinklier leaves on the right are Spearmint. Now I think "Spear Wrinkle" to remember it! Besides flavoring water and making herb sun teas, I use fresh mint in salad dressings and tabbouleh, a staple in the diets of desert people for centuries. Here's a recipe we like to eat cold in the summer (but I leave out the green onions):

Tabbouleh Mint Salad

3/4 cup organic bulgur wheat, 2 cups warm water, 2 bunches flatleaf parsley, washed and chopped, 1 bunch mint, washed and chopped, 1/2 bunch green onions, sliced thinly, 1/4 cup virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 plum tomatoes, seeds removed and diced, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper. Soak bulgur in the warm water until water is absorbed, drain any excess. Chop parsley, mint, onions if desired, and tomatoes and mix into bulgur. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Keep refrigerated until serving on lettuce or just by itself.

Note: Bulghur is just coarsely cracked wheat, not some fancy grain that's hard to find. You can substitue whole wheat berries and soak them longer, or cracked wheat cereal and it won't need to soak as long.

Another note: Oh my gosh, my customer friends keep calling and telling me about how they use mint in tabbouleh salads. Here are some suggestions I got today: 1) use leftover cooked grains such as brown rice or millet instead of soaked wheat; 2) use basil or especially lemon basil to replace or along with the parsley in tabbouleh; 3) cut the fresh herbs with scissors, it's much easier than a knife.

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