Thursday, May 26, 2011
Respect the food (or, how I burnt the bulgur)
I burnt the bulgur because I'm not strong enough to reach all the way to the bottom of the pot when it's full to the brim with grains and water, but I also burnt the bulgur because I was cranky and annoyed and unwilling to ask for help. To channel Carla Hall of Top Chef- it's all about the love and respect you put into your food. And I don't mean that it the metaphysical sense- I simply mean that if you respect the food and the people you are feeding you will be attentive and contentious. You will pay attention. Your food will reflect that. You will not disregard that burning smell, or under-cook the lentils. I try to keep that in mind. There will always be days when I'm cranky. There will always be days when I feel like nothing goes right. But when I'm in the kitchen I put that aside. My work in the kitchen is about food. It's about feeding people. It's about doing the things I love to do. My bad day can wait.
The following recipe is a mystery. I've been making it for years, but I have no idea where it's from. It's written on a yellowing piece of paper that gives no clue as to it's source. It is also the first thing I thought of when lentils and bulgur appeared on the menu in the kitchen. This is a great salad. It's herby and light and a full meal all on it's own. It anyone recognizes it and can tell me who to attribute it to, it would be much appreciated. As usual, feel free to play with the amounts in this recipe. Personally, I never really measure herbs. I just sort of grab as much as I can and chop.
Lentil and Bulgur Salad
1/2 cup brown or green lentils
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
4 tbl olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup medium-grained bulgur
3 cups vegetable stock, or water
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2-3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
lemon juice, to taste
yogurt, to serve
1. Soak lentils in cold water for one hour. Drain. Soak the red onion in water until ready to serve.
2. Put 1 tablespoon of oil into a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic, cook 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, cumin and cayenne. Cook 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes soften.
3. Add the bulgur, cook 3 minutes. Then add the liquid and lentils. Bring to a boil, cover and lower the heat. Simmer for 20-30 until the lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed. Cool.
4. Toss herbs and lettuce with remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Mix in the bulgur-lentil mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with onions and yogurt.
Note: You may notice that the photograph above is missing one crucial ingredient- bulgur. This is because, as I was informed in the supermarket-"there is no bulgur." Why? Who knows. Perhaps I was under the mistaken assumption that supermarkets stock staples such bulgur. I guess I was wrong.