After a season total of more than nine feet of snow last year, this winter has been eerily mild. Total snowfall barely topped a foot in aggregate and the temperatures were more like the kitchen refrigerator than a typical New England winter!
|The garden under six inches of fluffy snow, March 4, 2012|
Even when they spent a few days under snow, they all rebounded quickly and I've made tabouleh all winter from the bounty.
|Flat Italian Parsley: I covered it with an overturned bucket or laundry basket when snow was expected.|
|On the deck, this shrub was the easiest to protect with a box or bucket when the weather was harsh.|
|The sage lasted through the New Year. The thyme remained green all winter.|
|Spearmint grew with abandon all winter long. The new growth is tender and flavorful.|
|Fresh oregano - a treat in pasta sauces, soups, and roasted meat.|
With winter temperatures milder than normal and snowfall and ice storms infrequent, it was easy to protect tender herbs with an overturned laundry basket, box, or bucket. I didn't expect the sage to last past the first hard frost and was pleasantly surprised to be able to pick it into the New Year. With fresh herbs a few steps from my kitchen door, fresh tabouleh salad was a treat all winter. Serve it with homemade pita chips or with hummus on English muffins.
Fresh Tabouleh Salad
1 cup (dry) whole grain light bulghur (approximately 2-1/2 to 3 cups prepared)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup flat Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 large seedless cucumber, finely diced
1 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely diced (1/2 to 1 cup)
½ bulb garlic, minced
½ sweet orange pepper, finely diced (add more if desired)
½ sweet yellow pepper, finely diced (add more if desired)
2-3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
½ cup finely chopped broccoli florets (use the florets only, no stems)
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
2 lemons, squeezed and zested
2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil (add more as needed, depending on volume of bulghur)
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Bring two cups of water to a boil and add bulghur and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes and then turn off the heat and let the bulghur soak in the pan until soft. Test the texture of the bulghur and add more water and reheat as necessary until the bulghur is fluffy, soft and only slightly toothsome. Set aside in a large bowl to cool.
Finely chop the vegetables and herbs and add to the prepared bulghur. Add lemon zest and juice, pepper, oil, and vinegar. Toss with a large fork to mix. Add additional mint, lemon, salt, and pepper to taste.
Pita pockets (large)
Oregano and Basil (dried)
Cut each pita pocket into 8 wedges and separate each wedge into two chips.
With a pastry brush, lightly brush the inside surface with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt, basil and oregano. I either crush the basil and oregano with a mortar and pestle or grind it with an herb grinder to get a very powdery consistency.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 5-10 minutes (until the inside surfaces begin to turn golden brown).