In my native Canada, green herbs like parsley and dill are an afterthought; a sprig garnishes a dish, some chopped herbs are sprinkled on a soup. But here in the Middle East herbs take center stage. Parsley and coriander (or cilantro as it’s often called) are special favorites. And I love using them in a quick local version of the omelet, made with fresh organic, free-range eggs. Or eggs raised at home if you farm for eggs, like Karin does in Jaffa.
The parsley most commonly available in this region is the flat leaf variety. It doesn’t make as attractive a garnish as the photogenic curly parsley, but it’s much better to cook with. Parsley is full of vitamin K, C, and A, along with good flavonoids and volatile oils. It tastes quite different cooked than fresh. Parsley has also long been known as an effective natural diuretic according to the NIH.
Coriander has one of those tastes that you either love or hate. Mentioned in One Thousand and One Night, it is reputed to be an aphrodisiac and good for removing toxic metals from the body. It is also the only herb to have had a (now defunct) website created by its haters.
While not as widespread in Middle Eastern cuisine as parsley and coriander, dill is popular in Israel, probably because of its use by Eastern European immigrants.
Getting back to the omelet: August is an especially good time to cook with fresh herbs, as it’s their prime season in the Middle East. A great way to enjoy the taste of fresh herbs is in a delectable green herb omelet. These are usually sold at kiosks in industrial areas, where workers break for lunch, but why not make one at home?
Ingredients for herb omelet
2 very finely chopped green onions
A few sprigs each of parsley, dill, and coriander chopped, (discard hard stems)
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Lightly heat the oil in a frying pan (high heat damages olive oil).
3. Pour the mixture into the pan and let it cook on a low-medium heat until it is firm enough to turn.
4. Flip the omelet and cook until done.
Serve with a fresh salad, such as this Syrian tomato salad
Ruth blogs at Ruth’s Real Food