Lentil-Bulgur Salad ala Moosewood

March 22, 2011 § 2 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.

Lentil-Bulgur Salad

Lentil-Bulgur Salad

Lentil-Bulgur Salad

  • 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.

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Fresh, Homegrown Parsley

January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Fresh garden parsley in January, yo.”

Parsley harvested in November still going strong in January, thanks to some prepping tips.

That’s from my “Linguine with Clam Sauce: The Payoff” post. I had bragged about how our homegrown parsley is like Methuselah—it just keeps on keepin’ on even after being in our fridge for nearly two months. What the hell kinda parsley are we using, after all? Plastic?

No, not plastic. In fact, it’s one of those no-named varieties of flat-leafed parsley seedlings we bought from a pop-up garden center back in May. It’s the most gutsy plant we have in our community garden plot, and we couldn’t kill it if we tried. I planted pretty much every seedling that was broadcast-sown in the 4-in. pot we purchased—and every single plant survived.

Here are the growing instructions: Nothing special; water now and then.

I’m not kidding you. Nothing special. And, as a result, the two rows of parsley grew into a small hedge. In fact, it’ll probably come back from the dead when the soil warms this spring.

Just as the living stuff is indestructible, so too is the harvested parsley. Here’s how we prepared and stored the herb:

  • Gently wash with cold water.
  • Remove stems. Reserve stems for your stash of veggies for making veggie stock.
  • Lay leaves flattish on towel to air dry excess water. Best thing about parsley as a plant is that it’s sturdy—it’ll dry before it begins to wilt.
  • Once dry, store loosely in zip-lock freezer bag. Put in refrigerator. Since the storage bags are a bit thicker, I think that helps prolong the parsley’s life.

We also stashed six or eight of these zip-locks in the freezer, where it forms frozen sheets. When we run out of the fresh stuff, we’ll break off a corner of the frozen parsley sheet and add it to soups, stews, pasta, and so forth.

More importantly, this is what we DON’T do: Store the parsley wet, wrapped in a moist paper towel in a sealed bag. The humidity just seems to build up along the bag’s sides, eventually making the leaves black and slimy. Sure, we’ll do this if we’re in a hurry or we know we’ll use the whole batch quickly. But it’s not something I’d do for long-term storage.

Will our parsley-storage technique work with the store-bought stuff? I don’t know—we haven’t had to buy the fresh stuff in years. But please do give it a try and let Dainty Dot know the results.

And did I mention, we also have fresh dill from the garden still going strong in the fridge, as well? It’s like a magic tomb, that refrigerator of ours.

Linguine with Clam Sauce: The Payoff

January 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

Clamming Part II.

This is the best part. This is when the clams go from mollusk-stuffed rocks to dinner in no time at all. This is the kind of 30-minute meal I’m talkin’ about, sista. Step aside, Rach. Ellen’s makin’ dinner.

Actually, Jennifer and Ellen are making dinner. Okay, okay … Jennifer’s making dinner, I’m sous-cheffing.

Here’s the play-by-play:

Large pot, filled with water, add handfuls of kosher salt until it “tastes like the sea,” as Giada would say. High heat. When it boils, throw in a pound of linguine – you know the drill. Keep an eye on doneness while you’re prepping the rest. Cook until nearly done, then just turn off the heat and let it coast in. When clams are nearly done, drain the linguine. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water to add back into the pasta if you wish.

Two or three big fat cloves of garlic, smacked and minced go into a saute pan with EVOO, a tbs or two. Throw in a fresh anchovy fillet (or two for good luck). Medium heat ’til the anchovy melts and it smells like Italian heaven.

Add a half cup-ish dry white wine. Nothing you wouldn’t drink yourself, but I’m not talking a Dog Point sauvignon blanc here. We used a Sevillon/Chardonnay blend that is on the I-wouldn’t-chuck-it-down-the-sink side.

Clam juice – that’s right, we’re adding clam juice to clam sauce. Like adding chicken stock to something. Just a touch of added flavor. Let that come together for a bit. It’ll boil more quickly than you think.

Simmah time. Mmmmm. We’re half-way there, folks.

Now’s the time that some will get squeamish. It’s ok, really – the clams are destined for a greater purpose at this point. We had about 30 clams. Only about 10 at a time fit in the pan. Throw ’em in, cover, and wait for the little guys to give it up. It takes between four to six minutes, depending on size. We had some big clams that took quite a bit of time. And, something I never knew – when the clams open, it’s not like it’s a slow-motion death yawn. There’s a definite rumbling in the dying clam’s vicinity, and then a sudden “pop” – the pearly treasure reveals itself. I’m exaggerating with the pearl comparison, of course.

When they open, take them out of the “juice” and pry out the meat. Reserve shells (for fumé). Add next batch to pan, and so on until they’re all cooked and open.

We’re almost there.

Mince your clams. Add back to the saute pan – which now magically has way more liquid in it from the clams – and let them heat up again. Add in your pasta. Mix until amazing.

Serve up, garnish with fresh chopped flat parsley – never, never the curly stuff. (By the way, we added parsley we harvested from our garden back in November. Man, that stuff keeps when prepared properly. Fresh garden parsley in January, yo.)

Eat. Try not to slop it all over yourself. That may be the hardest part of this whole experience.

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