olive

bulgur love

by Stevie on November 15, 2010

Recently Hegui went on a mini bulgur cooking frenzy, making mushroom and pink bean bulgur loaf and Brazilian style tabuli in a single afternoon. He over estimated the amount of bulgur needed so we had about two pints leftover. Well, I didn’t want to waste it and we all know that necessity is the mother of invention. So “bulgur love” is born.

bulgur love in hommage to the Summer of Love and modern hippies everywhere

bulgur love in hommage to the Summer of Love and modern hippies everywhere

Actually, I feel pretty confident that recipes similar to this are made everywhere. Here’s a nice example from Cookin’ Canuck. After all, I’ve really just added everything in the kitchen to the bulgur to make a flavorful, colorful and hopefully wholesome main dish, e.g a bulgur pilaf. I’m inspired by Hegui’s delicious and under appreciated, quinoa love.

Obviously, we’ve made up the names. They’re not very descriptive so I’d guess that search engines can’t figure them out too well. Our initial idea was that quinoa love was a vegetarian dish in homage to the Summer of Love in San Francisco, Flower Power and all that. Plus, cooking itself is an act of love. So what better way to honor a key ingredient then by surrounding it with a thrilling assortment of other, exciting, supporting cast members, all served up on a huge platter with metaphorical trumpets blaring? That’s the grandiose concept, anyway.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can mix and match almost all of the ingredients, perhaps even changing bulgur for another grain (maybe quinoa 😉 even.) I used a lot of stuff with intense flavors to make this vegan dish really pop. I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

downtown San Francisco at dusk

downtown San Francisco at dusk

bulgur love

2 pints coarse bulgur, pre-soaked for an hour and drained
1 container firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 bunch kale, stems finely chopped and leaves, coarsely
2 cups black beans, drained
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 red jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, sliced thin
½ cucumber, sliced thin
12 stuffed green olives, cut in halves
¼ cup fresh mint, minced
¼ cup Italian parsley, minced
6 spring onions, chopped fine
1 medium onion, sliced thin
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, minced
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
lime juice to taste
extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse tofu, cut into bite size rectangles and soak in a warm saltwater bath for about twenty minutes. This will add salt to the tofu and give it more flavor.

In a separate bowl, let cucumber slices soak in a saltwater bath. Hegui’s convinced that this step improves the flavor though I’m still doubtful about it.

While tofu soaks, heat some olive oil on medium and add garlic, kale stems and a dash of salt. Sauté until stems become tender. Add kale leaves and cook until they wilt a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.

Rinse tofu. Heat some olive oil in a small skillet on high. Add tofu and gently fry for a few minutes on each side until it browns slightly. Carefully remove to a dish and set aside.

In a large skillet, add sliced onion, red and jalapeño pepper, some salt and olive oil. Sauté until vegetables reduce and onion begins to caramelize (about five to eight minutes). Add black beans to onion and sauté together to warm through. Fold bulgur into cooked onion. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Drain and rinse cucumber. Add cucumber, olives, herbs, spring onion, tomatoes (dried and cherry), and kale to bulgur mixture. Fold everything together. Add lime juice, more olive oil and adjust salt. Pour into a large serving platter then place tofu rectangles on top. Serve and enjoy.

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New York style pizza is hard to find here in San Francisco. There is a place on 18th and Castro that I think makes something similar to what you get at those hole-in- the- wall pizza places in NYC. Sometimes when we go shopping in the Castro area I try going with an empty stomach so I can reward myself with a slice…or two.

Still, it’s not quite the same. Maybe like wine, the context matters for good pizza? There’s nothing like that hot slice fresh out of the oven burning the roof of your mouth at 2AM in the East Village after you’ve been to three parties and as many bars on a weeknight, is there?

pizza number 1 with kalamata olive and fresh basil

But I’m here on the West Coast now… the Left Coast. It’s not the same, but maybe it could be reproduced in my kitchen? I’ve always believed that it’s hard to make pizza at home, which has put me off trying. But it was finally time, that is after I’d run around a bit to get some of the basic pizza making things that I needed. Aside from getting the right kind of flour and more yeast, I also trekked over to the gigantic Target store in Colma to get a pizza stone for the oven. The stone, I’m led to believe, is the key for the right kind of crisp crust.

California pizza tends to be thin with a thin crust. The stuff is flimsy and really requires a fork-and-knife dining approach. This homemade pizza was stable enough to be eaten with the best tools on earth: two hands! That’s more like it!

I made two pies with this recipe. And though they may not have had the classic New York City terroir, or shape for that matter, they were both pretty darn fabulous.

homemade New York style pizza two ways

for the dough:

4½ tsp fresh yeast (if using dry active, cut amount by half)
1 cup lukewarm water (~100F or 40C)
3 cups of pizza flour (high gluten content) plus more as needed
1½ tsp Kosher salt
1½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more
Semolina or corn meal for sliding pizza onto stone

key ingredients: homemade pizza dough, homemade tomato sauce and two types of goat cheese

The dough is made in 3 stages.

First, using a large bowl mix together the warm water, salt, sugar, yeast and a half cup of flour. Set aside and let rest for 20 minutes in a warm, draft free part of your house. The dough will rise and look like a thick, bubbly sauce. An intense bakery aroma of yeast will permeate the kitchen. This should be a sign that your yeast got home from the store alive and that you didn’t kill it using too hot water. (I tried making a challah bread once and killed the yeast by over heating the water. That was sad)

Next, add remaining flour and olive oil to yeast mix. Mix with a spatula to incorporate then switch to using hands and knead for about 8 minutes. If dough is too sticky add a bit more flour. In the end it should be smooth, stretchy and slightly sticky. Form an even ball shape. Place in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil over to grease the entire surface. Cover with a kitchen towel. Let it rest for approximately 1½ to 2 hours or until it doubles in volume.

You can make the pizza straight away or store the dough in plastic bags in the fridge to use the following day. I made mine in the same day.

About 20 minutes before you’re ready to cook, bring oven temperature to 485F with the pizza stone inside. It’s important to warm the oven and the stone at the same time to prevent it from breaking.

pizza number 2 with red bell pepper and sweet Vidalia onion

For tomato sauce:

28oz can unseasoned peeled tomatoes, chopped with juices
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp tomato paste
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp black pepper
1 dried red peperoncino, crushed (or chile de arbol)
¼ tsp sugar
½ tsp red wine vinegar

Simmer all ingredients but vinegar and 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 35 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Add reserved olive oil and vinegar, stir and set aside. It’s best to make the sauce while your pizza dough is rising. Of course, you can skip this step if you go without tomato sauce or get something pre made.

Preparing the pizza for baking:

To shape the pizza cut the risen dough into two equal pieces. Stretch each one into a pizza shape, leaving the edges a bit thicker for the crust. Now I know that pizzas at restaurants are always circular or sometimes rectangular. But this is homemade so you can let your imagination run wild as to the right shape for you. Mine were irregular organic shapes that we both quite enjoyed when it came time to serve them.

Sprinkle a liberal amount of semolina or corn meal on a wooden chopping board or pizza board. Place the shaped dough over top. Add toppings as you like. Open up oven door and carefully slide pizza off the board onto the hot stone. Close the door and bake for 20 minutes. Repeat with second pizza.

Pizza 1: tomato, cheese, olive and basil

Tomato sauce
Goat cheese mozzarella
Bucherón cheese
Kalamata olives
Fresh basil (to be added after pizza is out of oven)

Pizza 2: tomato, cheese, olive, onion and sweet red pepper

Tomato sauce
Goat cheese mozzarella
Bucherón cheese
slices of vine ripe tomato
Kalamata olives
sweet Vidalia onion slices
sweet pepper slices

Or add your own toppings…the options are endless.

a slice that you can pick up with your hands!

2007 Kingston Family Vineyard Lucero syrah

We enjoyed these two pizzas with a chewy, dark Chilean 2007 Lucero Kingston Family Vineyards syrah.

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weirdcombos-style red lentil dal & olive pilaf

According this cool book about the history of Indian food that I’ve been reading, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, by Lizzie Collingham; pulao, pilaf, pilau and paella are essentially the same term for Eurasian rice dishes from India to the Iberian peninsula. Steven and I had a big discussion about it over Shirazi baked polow.

Since the terms are “generic” in the sense that they simply mean rice dishes, why not create your own version of a pilaf, polow or paella? That’s how I arrived at this recipe. I adore olives and red lentil dal, though I cannot really recall having them together before, can you? To me, the dish is sort of pan-Eurasian, embracing India on one side and Spain and Portugal on the other.

The lentils dissolve while cooking and, with the tomato paste, give the dish an exciting orange-ish red color with a pleasing earthy flavor. The olives are salty and briny, which I think works great. The result is fabulous, nutritious, tastes great and is so easy to make.

weirdcombos-style Red Lentil Dal & Olive Pilaf

1 cup rinsed basmati rice
1 cup rinsed red lentils
1 shallot, minced
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste
1¾ cup hot water
4 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Kosher salt
1 cup pitted, halved kalamata and Spanish olives

Using a deep pan, sauté shallot in 2 tablespoons olive oil until translucent. Add garlic, rice, red lentil and salt to taste and continue sautéing to coat everything with oil. Meanwhile dissolve tomato paste in hot water and add to rice mix. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover pan and let it cook for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Remove from heat and let it rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Just before serving toss olives in and mix to combine. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Top with freshly ground black pepper to taste and serve.

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