I’ve been hearing a lot of excuses lately from people I know as to why they don’t shop at a farmers’ market. Starting today, I’m going to give you reasons why you should start frequenting farmers’ markets NOW.

You can get GINORMOUS bunches of herbs for CHEAP!

Do you ever find yourself not using fresh herbs in dishes because it’s just so darn expensive to buy those little plastic containers of basil, mint, oregano, etc from the grocery store?  Not only do you have to deal with the plastic waste from the packaging, but you only get a microscopic amount.  The grocers in my area sell these diminutive bundles for $1.99 each!  What if your pesto recipe calls for 3 cups of basil?  $$$$

If you get herbs from the farmers’ market, you can not only talk to the grower, but you get a huge bunch for cheap!!  Often, the herbs will either be organic or at least not sprayed with pesticides. Ask the vendor though to be sure. Most often, he/she will be happy to discuss. If not, then I suggest moving on to another stall. There are plenty of fish in the farmers’ market sea!

An added bonus:  the fragrance of fresh herbs is AMAZING!!!  Herbs are supposed to smell good enough to make your mouth water and inspire you to cook.  I guarantee the little grocery store boxes of herbs won’t stimulate your senses.

Fun fact:  a bunch of basil accidentally left in the warm car with your stinky boxing gloves will take away the sweaty smell…no joke!

One of my favorite markets is the  Mar Vista Farmers’ Market.  I got my fragrant, GINORMOUS bunches of Italian parsley and mint for $1.75!  Woo hoo!  Score!

Here’s the recipe for what I’m using my herbs in.  The intention was to make dolmas, but I went to 4 stores and couldn’t find any jars of brined grape leaves ; therefore, the dish has become a lentil and bulgur salad with some arugula thrown in for good measure.

 

Bulgur + Lentil + Fig + Mint Salad

Makes about 7 cups

A nice buffet or picnic option containing lots of protein, folate, iron and fiber.

  • 1 cup bulgur, medium grain size (don’t get the super fine grain). (Use 2-1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup French green lentils, or other lentil such as beluga. (Use 2 cups cooked)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • ¾ cup chopped dried mission figs  (1/4” pieces)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (juice from about 1 lemon)
  • 3 heaping cups arugula or baby spinach leaves
  1. Prepare bulgur by bringing 1-1/2 cups water to a boil. Add bulgur, cook for about 1 minute, cover and turn off heat. Bulgur should be soft and water absorbed within 10-20 minutes.  If bulgur has not absorbed all of the liquid and is not tender, turn heat to very low, cover and simmer until the water has been absorbed by the bulgur.  Allow to cool.
  2. Place lentils and 2 cups of water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 10-12 minutes. Do not overcook or let lentils will become mushy and fall apart. Drain when tender and cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cooled bulgar and lentils, mint, parsley, figs, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add arugula or spinach. Thoroughly toss to combine all ingredients.
  4. Best eaten at room temperature.
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