The first thing that attracted me to this recipe was the name and the fact I didn’t have to peel the potatoes! Plus, while the potatoes were boiling, I could gather the other ingredients and clean up my preparation dishes and utensils.
Potatoes have gotten a bad rep as being “fattening” – however as you
can see from the nutritional information, potatoes can make a delicious side dish that is reasonable in calories, low in cholesterol and high in potassium.
“An herb is the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks.” ~Charlemagne
If you’d like to “garden” but feel you don’t have room, try planting herbs. They’re like mini-vegetables, easily grown in a pot, and very forgiving if you occasionally neglect them.
Best yet, they add flavor and color to foods without adding sugar and fat calories or salt. Here’s a potato I “nuked” in the microwave and topped with yogurt, presented with and without chopped chives. That little sprinkle of green makes all the difference in appearance and flavor!
A sprinkling of herbs adds color and flavor.
Looking for a spot for growing herbs? They need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. No place to plant? Put them in a pot.
Thyme is a hardy perennial herb and looks beautiful grown in a pot.
Add a little extra color by combining herbs with a flower that requires the same amount of sunlight, type of soil, and watering schedule. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office or garden store for more information about plants that go together well in your area. Find your local Extension office at this link: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/
Italian (flat-leaf) parsley and straw flowers combined in a pot.
Cooking with Fresh Herbs
For best quality, fresh herbs can be stored in a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper drawer for about a week. Perforated plastic bags (bags with small holes in them) allow some air to move in and out of the bag yet retain most of the moisture in the bag. This helps prevent condensation within the bag and reduces shriveling. Either purchase perforated bags or follow these directions from University of Wisconsin Extension to make a perforated bag:
“You can make holes using a standard paper punch or a sharp object such as a pen, pencil, or knife. Punch holes approximately every 6 inches through both sides of the bag. If using a knife to create the openings, make two cuts — in an ‘X’ shape — for each hole to ensure good air circulation.”
Wash herbs in a clean colander under running water, tossing them around so all surfaces are rinsed well. Consumer Reports recommends, “If greens are particularly dirty, loosen dirt and sand by swishing them in a clean bowl of water (not the sink), then rinsing.” I like to use the removable strainer basket from my salad spinner for washing herbs. And, then use the basket to spin my herbs dry in my salad spinner.
Wash herbs under running water just before using them.
Pat herbs dry with paper towels or use a salad spinner. Before buying a salad spinner, give it a spin at the store to test if it spins easily.
Drying herbs in a salad spinner.
A quick way to cut herbs is with a kitchen scissors. For some dishes, you can cut the herb directly over the food itself.
Snipping chives with a kitchen scissors.
Some general guidelines for cooking with fresh herbs are:
Use three times as much as of a dried herb. For example, if a recipe called for 1 teaspoon of a dried herb, use about 3 teaspoons of a fresh herb. The drying process reduces the size of dried herbs, making their flavor more concentrated.
Add more delicate herbs a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkle on food just before it is served. Examples include basil, chives, dill leaves, parsley, and mint.
Less delicate herbs can be added about the last 20 minutes of cooking. Examples include oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sage.
Add more delicate herbs, such as basil, a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkle on the food just before serving.
For many recipes, it’s not important to be exact with the amount of an herb. Just sprinkle in a little for color and flavor. Popular herb and food combinations include:
Basil: A natural snipped in with tomatoes; terrific in fresh pesto; other possibilities include pasta sauce, peas, zucchini
Chives: Dips, potatoes, tomatoes
Mint: Carrots, fruit salads, parsley, peas, tabbouleh, tea
Oregano: Peppers, tomatoes
Parsley: The curly leaf is the most common, but the flat-leaf or Italian parsley is more strongly flavored and often preferred for cooking. Naturals for parsley include potato salad, tabbouleh, egg salad sandwiches
Thyme: Eggs, lima beans, potatoes, poultry, summer squash, tomatoes
Add a pop of mint to dress up a fruit salad.
“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success.” ~Henry David Thoreau
Sage and coneflowers grace the table at an outdoor meal.
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Cool off with Tabbouleh, made with cucumbers, mint, parsley, tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, olive oil and whole wheat bulgur.
According to Wikipedia, tabbouleh is a salad of Arab origin and is “traditionally made of bulgur, tomato, and finely chopped parsley and mint, often including onion and garlic, seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.”
Tabbouleh stores well and tastes as good or better the second day. Exact amounts of ingredients aren’t necessary … so don’t worry if you have slightly too much parsley, not enough cucumbers, an extra tablespoon or so of lemon juice and so on.
If you’ve never eaten bulgur, a form of dried cooked wheat made from whole wheat kernels that have been cracked into small pieces, tabbouleh is a delicious way to start. Bulgur is easy to prepare and can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. For more bulgur recipes, visit the Wheat Foods Council website at wheatfoods.org.
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1 cup uncooked bulgur
3/4 cup chopped cucumber
3/4 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup sliced green onions or 2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
Prepare bulgur according to package directions for starting with one cup of uncooked bulgur and the recommended amount of water for reconstituting this dry volume. The directions will tell you how long to let the bulgur set to absorb the water and become softer.
After the bulgur is ready, mix together bulgur, cucumber, tomato, parsley, mint, onions, and garlic.
In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Combine with the other ingredients, mixing well.
Refrigerate and let chill for 2 hours before serving for the flavors to meld.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste, before serving.
Makes 6 servings
Before chopping parsley and mint, wash in a colander held under running water. Spin dry in a salad spinner or roll in paper towels to dry.
Get more juice from the lemon by rolling it gently on a flat surface to loosen the membranes.
My husband and I enjoy eating healthy foods, but they must taste good and be quick to prepare.
My goal with Cook It Quick is: Making you hungry for healthy food!
Follow along as I share recipes and kitchen tricks that help you enjoy the same types of foods. And though I am a registered dietitian and University of Nebraska-Lincoln extension educator, all my recipes must pass inspection by my toughest critic … my husband!