March 22, 2011 § 4 Comments
Bulgar? Bulgur? Bulghur? However you spell it, society at large has been hiding this absolutely spectacular whole-grain from me. If you are to believe movies such as The Adjustment Bureau, the men behind the curtains controlling my life have seen to it that bulgur shall never be placed in front of me. Ever. Never had it. Never saw it. Was never even tempted.
That is, until one Sunday morning a few months ago. I was tidying up the house with Food Network on in the background and Ba-Da-Boom Nigella Lawson made a bulgur dish to accompany a Moroccan meal. And if Nigella likes it, well … I gotta give this stuff a try.
Forget for a moment it’s a whole grain and nutritious and etc. It tastes good! It’s got a great consistency! And it plays well with others. In today’s recipe—and yesterday’s, too, actually—bulgur plays really well with lentils. So well, it’s like they are playing doctor, if you know what I mean.
This recipe is from the Moosewood Cookbook. I’ve eaten at the Moosewood, by the way, back in the mid 90s. And it’s true what they say—terrific food, the service coulda been better (they didn’t place my order. At. All. And that was just one of many examples). But, seriously good food. And if you can chop, you can make this stuff.
I made this for the first time Sunday. And my first reaction after tasting was, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? I just made this from that stuff??” I’m not kidding you, this stuff is taste on a plate.
A coupla notes: 1) Omit the feta and it’ll be vegan. 2) Serve at room temp – it has better flavor. 3) Stuff it in pita … yum. 4) I didn’t add the olives. I don’t think I had any and I forgot in general. 5) It’s a perfect protein. Oh yeah.
- 1 cup dry lentils (use green!)
- 2 cups water
Put lentils in small saucepan. Add water (and a pinch of salt). Bring to just boiling. Turn heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes until tender but not mushy. Drain well and place in a large bowl.
- 1 cup dry bulgur wheat
- 1 cup boiling water
Place bulgur in a small bowl. Boil a cup of water (microwave is fine) then add it to the bulgur. Give it a swirl. Cover the bowl with a plate. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. That’s it.
Now comes choppin’ time. Add all of this to the lentils:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (I used juice of one lemon)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 2 tbsp freshly minced (or 2 tsp dried) mint (do not skip this!)
- 2-3 tbsp freshly minced (or 2-3 tsp dried) dill
- fresh black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup freshly minced parsley (I broke off a hunk of my frozen parsley)
- 1/3 cup minced red onion
- 1 small bell pepper
- 1/2 stalk celery, minced
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/2 cup nicoise olives (oops, forgot those)
Stir those around and add the bulgur, too. Now add:
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Fold that around. Give it a taste.
Right? I TOLD you. That’s flavor that’ll make your Greek grandmother weep.
March 21, 2011 § 6 Comments
So, about that two-thirds vegan diet … Oh, no worries, we’re still on it and still successful. Yay us! There is one small side effect, however, that I need to address. I get a vacant-minded, mad-hungry feeling around lunch time, and no matter how much I eat, I’m still kinda not all there. I’m thinking I may need more protein around then.
I’m no nutritionist, but I do know that a not-so-magical combination of certain beans and grains form a perfect (or close to it) protein. Do red beans and rice stave off the protein cravings enough so you don’t go chasing the nearest cow? I’m pretty sure they do.
In search of a protein-packed lunch option, two recipes found their way to me. The first just happened to be one of many Turkish recipes found in last Wednesday’s Boston Globe. Middle Easterners boy, do they know how to make huge flavors in vegan meals. Below is the recipe with a few changes as noted.
Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Ezogelin in Turkish)
- 2 tbs butter (I used a couple swigs olive oil)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tbs tomato paste (what to do with the rest of the can? freeze it)
- 1/2 cup bulgar wheat
- 2/3 cup red lentils
- 7 cups chicken stock (we used veggie stock)
- 3 tbs dried mint (couldn’t find any! so we used minced fresh, about 3tbs)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- salt & pepper to taste
-In a soup pot over medium heat, heat up butter or oil. Cook up onion until softened, about 5 min. Stir in tomato paste until blended in – 30-60 sec.
-Add bulgur, lentils and stock. Boil then simmer on low heat, pot covered. Let it simmer for about 30 min until lentils and bulgur are tender.
-Add mint, thyme, red pepper, salt and black pepper and simmer a few more minutes to meld the flavors.
Use RED lentils, not green. Red lentils tend to break down further than green, creating more of a mush or, when in a soup, it’s more of a thickener. You can use green but, well … I wouldn’t, not for this soup.
We actually had this last night for dinner, served with hunks of fresh bread (I’m still baking!) and a side of lentil-bulgur salad—another high-protein dish. I’ll give you that recipe tomorrow. That is a seriously tasty salad.
February 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
Sometimes dinner is just a bowl of gussied-up bulgur. Not that bulgur is meaningless or anything. Not in the least. It’s a whole grain, high in fiber, packed with good nutrition—it’s awesome just for that. Throw in its great taste and texture, it’s a real winner.
But when I say “sometimes dinner is just a bowl of gussied-up bulgur,” I mean some days you just don’t want to put a lot of effort into the evening meal. Aside from pulling a box of frozen somethin’ out of the freezer, fancified bulgur is an easy solution.
Two weekends ago at the Somerville Winter Farmers Market, one of the vendors—she sells Middle Eastern prepared foods—shared a quick-and-easy bulgur recipe with Jennifer and I. Having just come home from a long weekend in Vermont, we decided to take mealtime easy and whip up the bulgur. Jennifer prepped the dish, I stood by and watched. Full credit goes to my favorite chef.
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 TBS evoo
- 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
- salt & pepper
- 1 small bunch kale, washed and roughly torn
- 1 cup bulgur
- feta cheese
-Chop onion. In a medium pot, saute onion in olive oil over medium until somewhat translucent. Add tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Heat until bubbling, then turn down to a simmer. Let simmer gently while you prep the kale.
-Add kale to tomato onion mixture, and try to combine with tomatoes, but don’t try too hard. Cover. Let simmer away for 15 minutes.
-After 15 minutes, kale should be mostly cooked. Stir in a cup of bulgur. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. The bulgur should soften and expand during that time.
-Dish up in bowls as a light meal or spoon alongside an entree. Top with a sprinkling of feta cheese if you wish (and I wish).