Grow your own finger food

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  • photo by tom ciriello

‘Garnishes’ no more. Mint and parsley are on a roll.

By Lori Marrie

Two decades ago a ravenous group of woodchucks navigated their way to our backyard and burrowed into our garden, sabotaging production of all edibles with the exception of my prized apple tree. This year, determined to regain control of our real estate, Tom and I dug up the sunniest patch of lawn and constructed what will hopefully be a critter-proof fence.

If all goes well, hardy brassicas, heirloom tomato plants, Kirby cucumbers, colorful leafy stalks of chard and two raised beds filled with herbs and an extra planting of parsley and mint will soon be ready for harvesting. And that means a summer of vegetable and herb-forward recipes. Parsley is often an afterthought, a garnish – something green to add color to the plate. But it’s also the main ingredient of a summertime favorite. In fact, there are two cups of robust parsley and a generous amount of mint in tabbouleh, where it’s the grain, in this case bulgur, that’s secondary.

Along with the herbs and wheat, this tabbouleh is loaded with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and juicy radishes seasoned with a light, refreshing dressing. I’ve taken this traditional Mediterranean salad and transformed it into summer rolls by spooning the mixture into blanched tender chard leaves rolled into individual portions. Serve this garden fresh finger food with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Chard rolls stuffed with tabbouleh


1/2 cup fine or medium bulgur wheat

3/4 cups boiling water

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup scallions thinly sliced (white and green parts)

2 cups chopped flat leaf parsley leaves

1 cup chopped mint leaves

1 cup diced cucumber, seeded

1/2 cup diced radishes

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 dozen large chard leaves

In a small bowl combine bulgur and boiling water. Cover and let stand 1 hour or until water is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Drain any excess water. While the bulgur is soaking, place the chopped tomatoes in a colander and allow to drain. Place the bulgur in a large bowl and add the drained tomatoes, scallions, parsley, mint, cucumber and radishes. In a small bowl whisk the lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Pour the dressing over the tabbouleh and stir gently to coat. Add additional lemon or oil if needed.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Have a large bowl of ice water ready. Cut the stems off the bottom of the chard leaves and reserve them for another use. Gently place the leaves into the boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds. Carefully remove to the ice water. Drain and pat dry taking care not to tear the leaves. Cut the thick stem from the lower leaf – approximately two inches. Overlap the cut portions of the leaf. Place two tablespoons of tabbouleh into the center of each leaf, fold the sides over the filling and roll from the bottom up.

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