Fresh From the Farm by Katie Malich

What vegetable contains three times as much vitamin C as oranges, twice as much iron as spinach and can serve as a natural breath freshener?

Parsley. That humble little sprig of green which garnishes so many plates and far too often gets sent back to the kitchen with the dirty dishes, untouched.

If you’re one of the many people who haven’t enjoyed the fresh taste of parsley at the end of the meal, perhaps you’ll fall in love with this humble vegetable when it’s the main attraction of Lebanon’s national dish, tabouli, or when it blends with other herbs and spices in the Argentinian condiment chimichurri.

You’ll see two varieties of parsley for sale at the Tuesday Culver City Farmer’s Market: curly and flat-leafed (also called Italian parsley). The chimichurri and dip recipes are best with curly parsley, and the tabouli recipe is best with flat-leaf parsley, but either type could work in the dip and tabouli recipes.

A friend of mine will invariably bring a wonderful, healthful bean and herb dip to our book group. I’ve come to think of her dips as hummous with antioxidents and flavinoids. Fresh parsley offers both flavinoids and antioxidents, and adds a lovely fresh taste to garbanzo and other beans in the dips.

GABANZO, GARLIC, AND PARSLEY DIP
(makes approximately 2 cups)

2 cups of cooked gabanzo beans
2 garlic cloves, finely minced, or equivalent amount of garlic paste
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (the tarter Eureka lemons are better than Meyer for this recipe)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Using canned garbanzo beans in this recipe produces a smoother texture than using home-cooked beans. A 19 ounce can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinse, yields about 2 cups. Wash and thoroughly dry the parsley. Remove the stems and coarsely chop the leaves before packing them in the measure. Mix the salt with the garlic. Blend the beans, water garlic, salt, and parsley leaves in a blender or food processor until smooth. Change speed to slow, and add oil in a slow stream. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with pita bread pieces, toasted pita chips, slices of whole grain artisan bread, toasted baguettes or crackers.

Chimichurri

1/2 c. grapeseed oil
1/2 c. olive oil
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. parsley, chopped
1/2 c cilantro, chopped
4 roasted red peppers, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. onion, chopped
1 T.  lime
2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

You can use roasted red peppers from a jar or peppers that you roast yourself. Combine everything together and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes before using. Refrigerate unused portion; it will keep for a week or so.

To roast red peppers: You can do this on a grill or in the oven. They can even be roasted over the burner on a gas stove. Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll want to remove the seeds before roasting.

To roast in an oven, cut the peppers in half and clean out the seeds and membrane. Place a sheet of foil on a baking sheet, and place the peppers on the foil skin side up. Place in a 450-500 degree oven set on broil. The skin will start to blacken and soften in 7-10 minutes. Once the skins are brownish-black, remove from the oven. Use the tin foil to wrap the peppers and let sit for 20 minutes or so until the peppers have time to cool and “sweat.” Once they have cooled you will be able to peel the skins right off.

Argentinian cuisine is very much a carnivore’s delight, and chimichurri is traditionally used as a condiment or accompaniment to meat. But Jonathan of Two Small Farms Community Supported Agriculture, from whom this recipe was adopted, suggests that this is also excellent with seasonal grilled vegetables. Some suggested vegetables for the grill are summer squash, asparagus, scallions and spring onions, and corn.

Lebanese Tabouli
(serves 4-6)

3 bunches finely chopped flat leaf parsley, stems removed
1 cup chopped fresh mint, stems removed
2-3 tablespoons fine bulgur
1 medium to large or two small chopped firm tomatos
2 scallions chopped
1/2 cup extra Virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
(if using heirloom tomatoes, choose ones which are fairly firm to the touch while ripe, so that the tomato pieces can withstand tossing and remain intact when the tabouli is served)

Prepare the chopped parsley and mint and set aside. In a large bowl, mix bulgur, chopped tomatoes, chopped onions/scallions with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add to them the parsley and mint and olive oil and mix, adjusting seasoning by adding more oil and lemon if desired. Serve cold garnished with romaine lettuce.

The Culver City Farmers Market is held each Tuesday from 2 to 7 pm on Main Street, between Culver and Venice Blvds.

Katie Malich still remembers the first time she had an authentic Lebanese tabouli salad, rather than the bulgar-heavy tabouli made from pre-mixed boxes. The freshness was amazing, just as if she was eating a bowl of green, with tomatoes and olive oil as condiments.

www.culvercitysymphony.org

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