Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: When nature gives you early-season bounty, put it to good use

By JANINE GILBERTSON May 29. 2018 11:48PM

Tabbouleh features mint and parsley along with tomatoes and bulgur wheat. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

A few weeks ago I bought several potted herbs and stuck them in a large container with some good quality potting soil. I figured that later in the summer, I would have fresh herbs right outside my door, ready to pick and add to whatever dish I was preparing.

Well, later came much sooner than I expected; the container is already overflowing with chives, mint, thyme, cilantro, parsley and oregano. The tiny potted herbs grew much faster than I anticipated and I am already debating whether or not to transplant a couple of the plants so they don’t crowd each other.

In the meantime, I’ve been picking the herbs like crazy and using them to enhance the dishes I’m making.

This included a shaved raw vegetable dish with truffle olive oil, thinly shaved Romano cheese and Kosher salt. The first time I made it, I was hooked. There’s something very satisfying about eating fresh, raw vegetables dressed with good-for-you herbs and healthy truffle-infused olive oil. It also made me happy to watch my kids chomping away on the raw vegetables — even reaching for seconds.

One night, I wanted to put out dinner rolls but didn’t feel like running out to the store to pick some up. I had a store-bought pizza dough, so I minced up some fresh thyme and chives and kneaded them into the dough. Then I let the dough rest for a few minutes before breaking it into six equal pieces and rolling them into balls that I brushed with garlic olive oil and sprinkled with a little salt before baking.

Of all the plants in my little herb garden, I was especially surprised at how quickly the parsley and mint grew. As I was staring at the plants wondering what the heck I was going to do with big bunches of them, I realized they are used together to make tabbouleh. Making tabbouleh was also a perfect way to use up the grape tomatoes and lemons I had on hand that needed to be put to use. Luckily I had some bulgur wheat in the pantry, so the dish came together in a flash.

Now, if only the tomato plants I put in the other container would grow to usefulness as quickly as the herbs, I would be even happier.

Next week, we’ll talk about another recent adventure in the kitchen: making homemade tortillas from Masa Harina, a surprising simple thing to make. Of course, I added a little fresh chopped herbs in those, too.

Tabbouleh

1/2 cup bulgur wheat

3 tbsp olive oil

1 cup boiling water

2 cups parsley, chopped

1/2 cups fresh mint, chopped

1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup English cucumber chopped

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

Add the bulgur wheat and olive oil to a medium bowl and add the boiling water. Cover and let stand for about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Add the parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir well to combine.

Easy Herb Dinner Rolls

1 package store bought pizza dough, thawed

1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped, such as thyme, oregano or chives

2 tbsp olive or truffle oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt



Set the dough on a clean workspace and sprinkle with chopped herbs. Knead several times to incorporate the herbs into the dough. Allow dough to rest for about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425.

While dough is resting, add the olive oil to a small bowl and add the garlic. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on the parchment paper spaced equally apart. Brush the rolls with olive oil, then sprinkle with Kosher salt.

Place in the oven to bake for about 12 minutes or until the rolls are light golden brown.
Vegetables and herbs in truffle oil. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Vegetables and Herbs in Truffle Oil

1 medium zucchini

1 medium summer squash

1 cup English cucumber, sliced thin

1 1/2 cups purple cabbage, shredded

1 orange bell pepper (or red) sliced thin

2 tbsp truffle olive oil

3 tsp red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped, such as thyme, chive and basil

1/4 cup Romano cheese, shaved thin

fresh ground black pepper



Use a mandolin to thinly slice the zucchini and summer squash and add it to a large bowl. Add the cucumber, purple cabbage, pepper and herbs. 

Drizzle the truffle oil and vinegar over the vegetables, toss and then transfer to a serving bowl or platter. 

Garnish with Romano cheese and a few grinds of fresh ground pepper before serving.
Easy herb dinner rolls. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Easy Herb Dinner Rolls

1 package store bought pizza dough, thawed

1/2 cup fresh herbs, chopped, such as thyme, oregano or chives

2 tbsp olive or truffle oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt



Set the dough on a clean workspace and sprinkle with chopped herbs. Knead several times to incorporate the herbs into the dough. Allow dough to rest for about 5 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 425.

While dough is resting, add the olive oil to a small bowl and add the garlic. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on the parchment paper spaced equally apart. Brush the rolls with olive oil, then sprinkle with Kosher salt. 

Place in the oven to bake for about 12 minutes or until the rolls are light golden brown.


Food

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