If I inspired you, I've done my job!

January 14, 2012

They call it Burgul or Bulghur or even Bulgar—I call awesomely wholesome!

There’s a trending topic on foodie twitter scene—to eat one new food each week. I like it! And from what I see, many adventurous and not so eaters and cooks decided to try a new vegetable each week. And it’s fine. But being a “grain girls” as my culinary student cousin called me, I want to introduce to my readers, and by instance to myself, a new grain each week…

I guess I already have one post on the subject this year. My last week can be counted in for lentils, although being legumes, are closely related to grains.

Why grains? Not only because I want to differ from anyone, but also because I like to encourage myself and, if I’m lucky, my entire family, to eat as much seasonal as possible. And this time of the year, although you still might find many vegetables in the supermarket, is the season of the grain!

Furthermore, adding whole grains to your diet is a good way to get health-boosting nutrition, vitamins and minerals without splitting your budget.
Also, I have already shared some recipes with whole grains in my previous posts about Barley and Millet and today I’m introducing Bulgur.

What is this strangely named grain? Despite its scary sounding name and rather long list of spelling variations—bulghur, burghul or bulgar—it is gentle parboiled wheat, cracked into three different varieties: fine, medium or coarse. Fine and medium can be used for stuffing grape leaves or vegetables, and my favorite—coarse bulgur—can be cooked into a wholesome pilaf. Bulgur is vastly used in Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine—you most likely tried it in a salad, called Tabouleh and is considered a Whole Grain on this side of the pond.

It is also known as an ancient "instant" cereal. Because it's parboiled—that makes it partially cooked, the preparation time is half of its lookalike—cracked wheat. So, next time you want to switch up that rice-o-roni side dish routine, or swap your morning cereal, consider Bulgur for its awesome wholesome nutty taste, chewy texture and easy cooking.

I’m sharing a side dish made with frozen mixed bell peppers that is very easy and fast to prepare. The peppers add color and sweet flavor to this dish making it a perfect companion for almost any protein on your plate. I used dried oregano this time, but you can add any dried herbs of your choice. You can even garnish it with some fresh herbs. If you would like to use fresh peppers, please add an extra ½ cup of liquid to the recipe…

Bulgur and Mixed Peppers Pilaf
Serves 4

1 T spoon olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced
2 garlic gloves, crushed
1 pk (14 oz) frozen bell peppers, do not thaw
1 t spoon salt
1 t spoon ground black pepper
1 t spoon dry oregano
1 cup bulgur
1 cup water/stock
  • In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and then garlic and cook for couple of minutes until onions are tender
  • Add frozen bell peppers, season with salt, pepper and oregano and let simmer over medium heat until peppers are thawed, 2 to 3 minutes
  • Add bulgur, toss it with the vegetables, pour water/stock and bring to boil over high heat
  • Lower the heat to medium, cover the pan and let simmer until all liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat but leave the pilaf on the stove, covered for another 3 to 5 minutes
  • Fluff with fork, serve and enjoy!

January 05, 2012

New Year's Resolution & Red Lentil Soup With Roasted Tomatoes

This is my first post in the New Year. This is my first post in a while!

As we welcomed the New Year we all made our resolutions. I have made one, too. My resolution is simple: to be resolute.

I will be resolute with thoughts in my head, but listen to the words of my heart more often; resolute about the destination, but enjoying the journey; resolute about what I must acquire, but continue doing best with what I have.

I will be resolute about every little detail in my life. All 1000+1 of them!

And I will be resolute with what I do best and learning along the way hoping that these little steps, repeated every day, will keep me in the right direction.

One of the things I do best (as I was told) is soup. That’s why I’m sharing this delicious soup recipe with you today. It is easy to make and perfect for a crispy-cold winter day. The only challenge here is to peal the tomatoes. You must not skip this step for tomato skin is tough and indigestible when cooked. It’s a labor of love! But if you rather skip the labor, you can use 8 oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes. Just add it the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

Red Lentil Soup with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Serves 8

2 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
1 medium (1/2 large) yellow onion, diced
2 cups red lentils, washed and drained
1 T spoon tomato paste
1 pint grape tomatoes
Few sprigs of thyme, divided
8 cups water/chicken broth
3 T spoons olive oil, divided
Salt+Pepper to taste

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F; arrange washed grape tomatoes and couple of sprigs of thyme on a covered with foil cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; roast for 20 minutes;
  • While tomatoes are roasting, in a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat; add onions, carrots and celery and cook until tender. Add in tomato paste, and remaining thyme leaves (discard stems) and cook for another minute;
  • Stir in washed lentils and add water/broth, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat adding salt and pepper to taste and let the soup simmer for about 40 minutes or until lentils are cooked;

  • When the tomatoes are done, wrap them in the foil that was covering the cookie sheet, let cool for 5 minutes. Peal the skin from tomatoes and add them to the soup with the oil and thyme that is in the foil. Let all stand together for 5 minutes;
  • Serve with warm bread to 6-8 people.