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5 Easy Ways to Use Homegrown Italian Fresh Parsley — Lebanese Style

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

 

Lebanese tabbouli with quinoa (photo © linda dalal sawaya)

As an artist, cook, and gardener, for me Portland is nirvana for cooking seasonal Mediterranean cuisine, painting en plein air, and for planting almost anything. Right now in my garden the flat leaved Italian parsley, Petroselinum crispum neapolitanum, the straight alternate to curly parsley Petroselinum crispum, has thrived over our mild Mediterranean-like winter as a biennial, and is shooting skyward to flower and set seed.

This is a perfect time to harvest it for one of these Lebanese/Mediterranean salads or divine accompaniments on your springtime table—vegan or otherwise. Italian parsley is more flavorful than the curly variety and is recommended for these recipes. In addition to how wonderful this herb tastes, it is an excellent source of iron, vitamin A, flavonoids, antioxidants, even protein, and more.

If you decide to let it flower and seed, it attracts butterflies, bees, and other nectar-loving insects. Native to the Mediterranean, and as named Neopolitanum—from Naples, it is naturally grown throughout the region, including Lebanon. Yet I am craving greens, so I'm out there with my scissors! And if you don't have a kitchen garden to cut from, find some organic Italian parsley at your favorite shop.

1. Tabbouli

Spearmint is right there with Italian parsley in the garden waiting to be picked for the most refreshing salad in the world. Use quinoa either sprouted or cooked and cooled to make a gluten free tabbouli instead of the traditional bulgar. Last fall on my trip to Lebanon, my friend Bashar told me about a great “fast food” yet fantastic Lebanese restaurant called Kababji in Beirut that serves tabbouli with quinoa on their “light” menu. Traditional Lebanese tabbouli has parsley as the star ingredient, followed by spearmint, green onions, bulgar (or quinoa as a gluten free alternate), chopped fresh tomatoes (or organic diced canned tomatoes), fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and cayenne pepper. My mother, Alice, served it in romaine lettuce "boats" that we devoured like tacos.

Lebanese potato salad (photo © linda dalal sawaya)

2. Lebanese potato salad

Unlike creamy, and yes, fattening, Western types of potato salad, our vegan Lebanese potato salad is lightly drizzled with a garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice dressing. With spring green onions, also overwintered in the garden, fresh parsley and spearmint, this irresistible spring recipe is easy-to-make and can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature, or cold.

3. Fattoush 

Although tabbouli ranks as my favorite lebanese salad and is so popular and super nutritious, fattoush is a close second. This Arabic word comes from the word fatte meaning broken up or pieces, which refers to the broken pieces of Arabic or pita bread that are crisped and added to the salad just before tossing. It's easier to make than tabbouli, which i often crave at this spring time of year, when the parsley and mint in my garden are thriving in Oregon's welcome rain. Both salads include these two herbs along with green onions and a dressing of fresh squeezed lemons and olive oil, salt and pepper. No garlic! Recipes for both are in alice's kitchen: traditional lebanese cooking. The ingredients for fattoush are: romaine lettuce, cucumbers, green onion, parsley, spearmint, sumac (optional), and purslane (when it's available in the summer garden...it just shows up as a weed!

Lebanese omelette (ijhee) mini appetizers (photo © linda dalal sawaya)

4. Lebanese omelette 

This is the time of year when the parsley and mint are coming back to life in the Pacific Northwest, having gone dormant for a brief time of winter. i love exploring the garden to find these essential ingredients for our fabulous Lebanese omelette that is perhaps more of a frittata than an omelette. it is very green, indeed, and full of nutrients with unique spicing of cinnamon and cayenne pepper and is very light on the eggs. The recipe for ijhee is simple and easy-to-make. Ingredients: fresh eggs, onions—both green and spanish, Italian parsley, spearmint, flour, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, baking powder, and salt. Sautéed in clarified butter, served in pita pocket bread with cured olives, feta cheese, and fresh cucumbers, the omelette is made in individual mini pita sizes for appetizers or cooked in a big cast iron skillet and cut into pie shapes to tuck into a pocket.

5. Cabbage salad or Lebanese coleslaw

What comes to mind when someone says "coleslaw"? Something usually creamy, soggy, and limp, right? Not this bright green Lebanese version, which is refreshing, light, super easy to make, and nutritious, too. Shredded cabbage—savoy or not—with chopped spring green onions, Italian parsley, spearmint, drizzled with garlic, lemon, and olive oil dressing makes a crisp and tangy alternative for your dining table.

 

Linda Dalal Sawaya is a Portland artist, cook, and author of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Things You May Not Know About Truffles

The annual Oregon Truffle Festival is set to kick off in January in Portland and Eugene. But before attending the festival, here are 10 things you may not know about truffles. (All photos were provided by the Oregon Truffle Festival). 

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Truffles Priced 1,000 +

Prices in the U.S. for the French black truffle and Italian white truffle have reached up to $1,200 per pound. 

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Not All Are That Good

There are at least 1,000 truffle species in North America. All are thought to be edible, but only a few have real culinary value.

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Best in the West

Oregon has the four most famous “culinary” truffle species in North America.

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Where Else Are They?

There are currently three other “culinary” truffle species found elsewhere in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

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European Truffles Here

There are at least 20 farms in North America that are beginning to produce European truffles.

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Growing in the Northwest

In the Pacific Northwest, farms are producing Perigord, Burgundy, and bianchetto truffles in orchards of inoculated trees.

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Success in the West

Seven orchards of inoculated truffle trees in the Pacific Northwest have successfully produced European truffles.

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Wine Country Truffles

Yamhill Valley wine country has one of the largest concentrations of productive truffle patches in Oregon. 

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Oregon Soil

The Oregon Truffle Festival will be holding North America’s first truffle dog championship, named “The Joriad.”  The event is named after Oregon’s state soil, Jory soil, which is prime for truffle growing.

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Oregon Leads the Way

In early 2013, the famous black truffle of Southern Europe, aka the Perigord truffle, was harvested for the first time in Oregon in an orchard of hazelnut trees. 
 

 
 

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