Perhaps it's because they know that autumn is here. Perhaps they're mustering every last bit of energy they have to prove that they can, and will, proceed to produce long into the shorter days, chillier nights. Whatever the reason, my grape tomato plants have gone into hyperdrive, sprouting tomatoes and ripening them at a pace unrivaled at any other point during the summer. Which leaves me with the strange quandary of having a surfeit of sweet, tangy little tomatoes at just the point when no one wants to eat them any longer.
When it rained each and every single day of June and much of July, and I was reduced to purchasing my grape tomatoes for salads, everyone had a craving, a taste for the tiny fruits that I had to satisfy with the store-bought. And now? Too many, too late. We're tomatoed out. It's October, and we want beets (well, I do, anyway), broccoli, cauliflower, squash, and soon . . . Brussels sprouts. Tomatoes? Not so much.
I've roasted them. Dried them. Eaten them ad nauseum. Fed them to our guinea pigs. And still, we have ruby clusters emerging daily, an embarrassment of riches. So, here's what I've done. I've gone elsewhere in my late-summer garden for inspiration. There's not much left, but there's enough.
I picked tomatoes, mint, parsley . . . and made tabbouleh. It's easy, quick, healthy, and it uses as many tomatoes as you care to halve and include. The more herbs you put in, the better it is. It's good the first day, better the second. It's eaten by the vegetarian teen at my table ~ without complaint. And it's lunchbox friendly. Therefore, a winner.Tabbouleh ~ for the End of Summer
~ adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe in How to Cook Everything.
- 1/2 cup fine or medium bulgur
- 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 cups grape tomatoes, washed and halved
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 - 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place the bulgur in a medium mixing bowl and pour boiling water over to cover. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, until bulgur is tender. Drain excess water and return bulgur to bowl. In a small mixing bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Pour over bulgur and stir to coat.
- Add parsley, mint, and scallions to bowl; toss to combine. Gently stir in tomatoes. Taste for seasoning, adjust if necessary, and serve at room temperature or lightly chilled. May be made a few hours in advance and refrigerated, but let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to serving.
- If you're not a fan of bulgur, don't be tied to it in this recipe. Feel free to replace it with couscous, orzo, or rice.
- If you find yourself without a fresh lemon, do not use the bottled version of the juice ~ the taste will be inferior. Instead, use lime juice, rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar.
- Feel free to experiment with add-ins. A few suggestions: thinly sliced radishes, toasted pine nuts, or crumbled feta.