Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bulghur with Caramelized Onions

I love having a great selection of grains and dried legumes on hand, but there are some that seem to sit in the pantry much longer than others. There are two specific grains that I am constantly looking up recipes for: bulghur and wheatberries. I have had some luck with great grain salads using them, but it just seems like quinoa, barley and lentils are much more common.

There are multitudes of studies that show a plant-based diet is ideal for staying healthy, but this doesn't mean you must be a vegetarian. Obviously it's my life choice, and it would be great if everyone was in my opinion, but I don't get on my soapbox about it. However, I do encourage the plant-based diet, eating local and organic, as you can see by reading this blog. 

One of my favorite cookbook series is the Moosewood Collection and other books by Mollie Katzen, a Moosewood contributor. The books vary from light and healthy to worldly recipes to classics and new classics. They are innovative and encourage consumption of seasonal vegetables, whole grains and plant-based protein. I highly recommend these books to anyone, vegetarian or not because I'm sure everyone can find something satiating. 

After deciding to construct a meal around the bulghur, I consulted with my Moosewood collection and found this recipe. It was a bit Middle Eastern in flavor, so I paired it with the Baba Ghanoush and the following Fattoush for a complete meal. I absolutely love caramelized onions, but I rarely find the time and patience to slowly cook them. Luckily, it was a Sunday afternoon and I was watching football, so every few minutes I popped over to the stove to give them a stir. 

I followed the recipe as written, but added some chickpeas to give it protein. I also substituted cranberries for the raisins/currants because I had them in the pantry. I found this dish to be a little on the sweet side, and had to use a decent amount of salt and white pepper to balance the flavors. Next time I would use vegetable stock rather than water for a savory flavor.

Tips and Trades:
-Bulghur is cracked wheat, similar in texture to cous cous. If you're unable to find bulghur, use a whole wheat cous cous.
-This would be a wonderful stuffing for a winter squash, such as acorn, butternut or a small sugar pumpkin.
-I used one very large red onion for this dish, but you can use any onion - yellow, white, vidalia, shallot or red onion. Whatever you can find cheapest and organic is best!

Bulghur with Caramelized Onions and Chickpeas
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

2 tbsp. EVOO
3 c. thinly sliced onoins
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. medium-grain bulghur
1/4 c. dried unsweetened cranberries
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/3 c. vegetable stock
White Pepper

Heat a deep skillet over medium-low heat.
Add EVOO, onions and thyme, toss with a pinch of salt.
Stir the onions and slowly caramelize (I stirred every 5 minutes or so for 30 minutes).
Bring the stock to a boil in a small pot.
Add the bulghur, cranberries and cinnamon to the onions, stir together.
Add the boiling stock to the bulghur, stir, cover and turn heat off.
Let the bulghur rest for 15 minutes, until the stock is absorbed.
Use a fork to stir, taste and season with additional salt and pepper.
Serve with some chopped parsley or other fresh herbs.


Dawn said...

I love the combo with the thyme and cranberries. I need to try that.

Joanne said...

I'm all about the grains also! I love Moosewood...such a quality cookbook series. This looks like a stellar recipe!