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*July 2009 COTM* SPICE: Parsley, Mint, Dill, and Sweet Basil

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Our Chowhound July 2009 Cookbook of the Month is Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun.

Please post your full-length recipe reviews here for dishes from Chapter Nine:
Parsley, Mint, Dill, and Sweet Basil, page 248 to 273. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe. Let us know if you would like to make the recipe again, and if you would change anything in the future, too. Photos welcome!

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.


Thanks for participating and enjoy!

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  1. Sliced Summer Tomatoes with Basil and Walnut Tabouleh, p. 258

    Great use of fresh produce from the farmers market. I made this as one of the side dishes for a "Spice" dinner for a CH friend. Basically, a tabouleh with red onions, sweet peppers, and garlic is tossed with a walnut-parsley-basil pesto and topped with sliced heirloom tomatoes.

    There's a typo in this recipe - she mentions "peppers fresh from the garden" but doesn't mention it in the recipe itself, but I found a recipe on-line where she says to add one minced green bell pepper to the tabouleh/onion mixture. I used one each of small orange, red, and yellow sweet peppers from the farmers market.

    Fine bulgur is combined with minced red onion, peppers, garlic and lemon juice (I used regular bulgur so followed the directions on the box for cooking it). In a food processor puree basil, parsley, walnuts, olive oil and s&p, and combine with bulgur. I reserved some of the dressing to drizzle on the finished dish. To serve, I spread the tabouleh on a platter, topped with sliced fresh summer tomatoes, s&p, and garnished with crushed walnuts, chopped parsley, and drizzled with the basil-walnut dressing. Bright, fresh, summer flavors, and a great room temperature dish to serve at BBQs this summer.

    Recipe:
    http://harvard.com/upload/chef_displa...

     
    1. Chopped Romaine and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dressing p. 256
      http://www.oleanarestaurant.com/recip...

      A very tasty, simple salad with flavors perfect for summer. I love yogurt dressing and tzatziki, raita, etc so these were familiar flavors but seemed nicely dressed up in this version. I think this book has a lot of good recipes for entertaining.

      Romaine is sliced thinly to form shreds, cucumber is grated, and these are tossed with parsley, dill, mint, and toasted walnuts, then dressed with yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, sugar, champagne vinegar and olive oil.

      She uses more sugar than I usually do, and the sweetness and champagne vinegar made the dressing so tasty. Like lick the bottom of the bowl tasty:)

      I intended to make Maria's Feta Sauce with Shrimp, Melon and Tomatoes to go along with this, but ran out of motivation while grilling shrimp in 110 degree weather and ended up just serving grilled shrimp, this salad, olives and pita chips. It was a delicious dinner nonetheless!

      13 Replies
      1. re: yamalam

        I made this tonight as a side dish and we really enjoyed it too. I missed out the walnuts, and subbed fennel (the herb) for dill as I'm not overly fond of dill and I had fennel in the garden. The herbs in the salad made it taste very fresh, and I agree with yamalam that the dressing was really good. I have half of it left and might try it as a dressing for coleslaw later in the week.

        1. re: greedygirl

          I'm curious, when you say fennel (the herb), are you growing fennel bulbs and using the leafy greens from the stalks, or growing the kind that's *just* stalks and the leafy parts? The latter grows wild in lots of places in the area where I currently live, and I know people use it for its greens, seeds, and pollen. Of course, I use the leafy parts for flavor when I buy fennel bulbs, too.

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            No, it's completely different to the bulbs and is a perennial. I grow bronze fennel, which looks quite pretty and flowers too.

            http://www.englishplants.co.uk/brfen....

            1. re: greedygirl

              Interesting. The wild fennel that grows around here has no bulbs, but resembles the fronds on Florence fennel (the bulb kind) in big bushes.

              Do you ever harvest the pollen for culinary use?

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                I haven't but I might try to harvest the seeds come Autumn. It sounds to me like you could use the leaves of the wild fennel instead of dill. Where do you live, Caitlin?

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Yes, exactly - you use the leaves of the wild fennel for flavoring (or, for instance, bake fish on a bed of the branches). I wouldn't use it instead of dill, personally, because I like dill.

                  I live in Oakland, California, right across the bay from San Francisco, to the inland side. There are some areas of town where the wild fennel grows into bushes, both in people's yards and streetside. It's not uncommon in other parts of California, as well.

        2. re: yamalam

          I am going to try this salad to accompany Chicken Dijonnaise (Silver Palate -- I'm serving it room temp not hot) and just to eat something light and fresh. I don't know how I feel about --grated-- cucumber. Hmmm. Was that weird?

          My only other issue with this recipe is that for a budget-conscious-girl, this salad adds up with the cost of produce. The fresh herbs alone will be six or seven dollars. But I want to try it. It's just a little daunting to add up the cost!

          1. re: foxy fairy

            I wouldn't say the grated cucumber was weird, no. You do need to squeeze it well to make sure the salad isn't watery though.

            I didn't find it expensive either, but then I had mint and fennel (which I subsituted for dill) in the garden, and bunches of parsley are pretty cheap (maybe a dollar). I always have greek yoghurt in the house, so this was pretty much a storecupboard salad for me. The dressing is what makes it - I wouldn't worry too much if you don't have all the herbs.

            1. re: foxy fairy

              where are you shopping for herbs? your price seems awful high.do you have any asian or ethnic markets where you are? Plus you can use the excess for greek salad, omelets etc.

              1. re: foxy fairy

                Well, I bought these ingredients at Stop and Shop -- basic grocery, not a Whole Foods or anything snazzy, not a Price Rite or Asian/Latin grocery either. jen kalb -- I do definitely frequent the ethnic markets but I don't have time for multiple stops this week -- plus, multiple-stop-shopping all over the city costs gas money too.

                $1.50 each for mint & dill & arugula, 99 cents parsley -- so that is $5.50 there (I guessed $6)

                $2 English cucumber, $1.50 Romaine (buy one get one free -- so now I have LOTS of Romaine)

                So that's $9 for the produce, not even talking the dressing... I also use Greek yogurt all the time in salads, on granola, etc and I do love to have fresh herbs around, so I figure I'll make a potato salad with the dill, add the mint to iced tea and sandwiches, etc.

                But still. I"m just saying that fresh produce is pricey, and lots of times when I contemplate making a dish for COTM I really need to make sure I can spring for it!

              2. re: yamalam

                Chopped Romaine and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dressing p. 256

                I agree with all of the above, especially how tasty the sweet and tangy dressing is. I had all of the ingredients for the dressing (garlic, lemon juice, sugar, champagne vinegar, Greek yogurt, and evoo), but for fresh, just used what I had. I tossed with romaine and green leaf lettuce, grated cucumber, cilantro, and toasted walnuts. Since I didn't have fresh dill, I added some of Penzey's Dill Weed to the dressing. Even with the changes, it was still a great salad served alongside grilled lemon-garlic chicken.

                 
                1. re: yamalam

                  We really liked this as well. Instead of walnuts, I used pecans which were delicious in the salad. I also used dried dill since I don't grow dill anymore (goes to seed to quickly). Other than that, this was a fresh tasting salad. The additions of the herbs within the greens itself were interesting. I'm not sure I really tasted those, or the fresh grated cuke. Next time, I would up the amount of the herbs. But, as a whole salad, I really enjoyed it.

                  1. re: yamalam

                    I made this salad over the weekend and it turned out great. I really liked the dressing. I didn't include any nuts, and I just used cucumber slices instead of grated cucumber. To add a bit more spice and color to it, I added nasturtium flowers. Worked well with the flavor in the dressing. The salad is in the top-middle of the photo

                     
                  2. Beet salad with yoghurt and dill (online recipe)

                    I really liked this. It's quite simple - boil baby beetroot until tender and then grate. Mix garlic, salt, lemon, greek yoghurt and olive oil, and then add the grated beetroot and some dill. I'm not fond of dill so I missed it out. I would have substituted fennel (the herb) but was too lazy to go into the garden to pick some (it was chilly and dark, in my defence).

                    I served this as a side to the beef kebabs with pistachio.