saffron

vegetable paella

by Heguiberto on July 10, 2013

Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty attacks again! His vegetable paella is divine. It is full of color and flavors. If pilaf and paella have the same linguistic root, then I think this vegetable paella must be either an early progenitor of both or perhaps the modern trans-national child of the pair, as it not only uses saffron threads, but also turmeric and chili powders common to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines: incredible! And then there’s the sherry… Wow.

vegetable paella

vegetable paella

Yotam recommends using Calasparra rice but to be honest I have never heard of it before, so couldn’t even begin to think of where to find it. At any given time my rice pantry will always have few different varieties, so I made do with what I had. My choice was Thai jasmine rice. I selected this kind because I’ve made successful paella before with it. He also recommends using freshly shelled fava beans which would have been great but I was not able to find them in the market. Instead I substituted them for a fresh frozen shelled bag of edamame.

This dish is vegetarian and vegan. So flavorful, your meat eating loved ones will enjoy it too.

vegetable paella

6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion sliced thinly
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
½ fennel bulb cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chili powder (cayenne)
¾ cup sherry
1 container of saffron threads (0.020oz)
2 cups Thai Jasmine rice
3 ½ cups vegetable stock – hot
thin half-moon-shaped lemon slices
4 tbsp julienned sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
8 halves of grilled artichokes, preserved in oil, drained
¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 pint of mixed small heirloom tomatoes, halved
~ 2tbsp chopped parsley
Kosher salt

You need a paella pan or a similar large shallow pan for the dish. On high heat, add olive oil followed by the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add sweet peppers and fennel and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Peppers and fennel will soften a bit but still hold their crunch.

Mix in turmeric, bay leaves, paprika. Add rice and mix it again so rice gets some coloring. Stir in saffron and sherry, continue to cook long enough for the sherry juices to be absorbed/evaporated. Add vegetable stock, and kosher salt to taste, lower the temperature and cook for about 18 minutes. Liquid will be almost fully absorbed by the rice. To prevent the rice from breaking refrain from stirring while cooking. Turn off the heat.

Tuck in olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lemon slices, then sprinkle with parsley. Let rest, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, drizzle with some extra virgin oil and serve.

{ 6 comments }

This is another wonderful rice pilaf adapted from our favorite Iranian cook book, New Food of Life, by Najmieh Batmanglij. I prepared it for our New Year’s Eve party and we shared it with our friends Jasmine Turner and Prof. T.

fragrant herbed basmati polow

fragrant herbed basmati polow

Steven “suggested” the meal, and I’m glad. I was a bit jet lagged from our recent trip to Virginia and couldn’t organize my thoughts around what to cook for our last dinner of 2011: obviously an important decision in any kitchen. This rice is wonderfully fragrant and light. It whispers that spring is coming soon…

Here I didn’t use ghee. Instead I used just a single tablespoon of butter, and extra virgin olive oil for the rest. The recipe calls for plain yogurt but I used labneh—I can’t help it, I’m, addicted to the stuff. I mixed up the herb ratios compared to Najmieh’s recommendations and deployed the cinnamon parsimoniously.

Lastly, this dish requires attention to the process of making it otherwise it won’t turn out the way it is supposed to be. I’ve tried making similar recipes before skipping steps and the result was not as effective, so between prepping and the actual cooking, it took me about 3 hours to prepare.

fragrant herbed basmati polow

3 cups basmati rice
¾ cup whole scallions, roughly chopped
1½ cups dill, roughly chopped
2 cups Italian parsley, roughly chopped
2 cups cilantro, roughly chopped
2 stalks fresh Chinese garlic plants, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp saffron threads (~ 1 gram), dissolved/soaked in 5 tbsp warm water
2 tbsp labneh
Sprinkles of cinnamon
1 tbsp butter
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Rinse basmati rice 3 times in warm water. Transfer rice to a large bowl then add 8 cups of water and two teaspoons of salt. Stir it and soak for 2 hours.

Towards the last 15 minutes of soaking, fill a large pot with 8 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt and bring it to a boil. Rinse soaking rice and put it in the boiling water. Parboil it for about 5 minutes and drain.

Mix all herbs with minced garlic and some salt. Set aside

Using a separate bowl combine about ¾ cup of parboiled rice, labneh and a third of the saffron threads and juice. Be careful not to break the rice.

Heat a tablespoon of butter and a couple tablespoons of water in the pot used for boiling the rice. Spread rice/labneh mix over the bottom of the pan and cook rice for a couple of minutes at medium high. This will build the delicious brown crust of the dish. Reduce temperature to low.

Add a layer of rice, a tiny sprinkle of cinnamon and then a layer of herbs. Repeat until you run out of ingredients. The last layer should be rice. Sprinkle with some salt, the saffron water and threads, half cup of hot water and half of the olive oil.

Place a paper towel on the top of the pan and then cover with the lid. Continue cooking for about 45 minutes. Do not open the lid until time has lapsed. Remove from heat and let it rest, covered, for another five minutes. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil over, transfer to a serving plate/bowl and voila! Najmieh suggests that you pile the rice in a pyramid shape and serve the crust on the side. That would make it look cuter, but we were starved by then so sort of mixed it all together.

welcome 2012!!!

fireworks display over downtown San Francisco and the Bay. Welcome 2012!!!

{ 4 comments }

fish biryani

by Heguiberto on November 8, 2011

This is our recipe for the biryani cook-off that the delightful Heavenly was so good to sponsor. Though after making this marvelous, complex dish; I’m starting to think that she might have been misnamed, as it appears that a tiny bit of a devilish streak lies hidden among all that domestic goodness and glamour. Have you ever seen one of those cartoons with the good angel and the bad angel sitting on the main character’s shoulders, giving opposite confusing advice? Then you know where I’m coming from here.

fish biryani

fish biryani

Okay I always promise myself whenever I’m about to cook Indian that I’ll get the spices out first, so I don’t get mixed up or forget anything, then proceed to the actual cooking adventure. But no, I didn’t do that again! Perhaps that was my evil angel’s counsel. I got dizzy from relentlessly having to go back and forth to the pantry and spinning the lazy-susan over and over and over again to locate the next needed spice for this dish. How funny that now that we have a new kitchen with a dedicated place for spices, I still find myself unable to find anything. I hope that one day they add some computerized artificial intelligence with a soothing voice to kitchen cabinets that will both find anything that I want via verbal-command and will calm me with his/her flattery and encouragement as I freak out at the stovetop. Then no more getting lost in the aromatic black hole I call my spice cabinet.

spice chaos as I look for ingredients for fish biryani

spice chaos as I look for ingredients for fish biryani

I must confess I think I have never made a dish that was so complicated. Lots of steps! I quite liked the result, but this was an effort. I am going to test the recipe again using spices in different proportions. I feel sure each time it will come out tasting slightly differently, so I can mix it up some. I’m excited to read about everyone else’s versions in the cook-off. You should be too. Follow these links for the other “contestants’” biryani masterpieces.

Heavenly Housewife from donuts to delirium
Vanessa from sweet artichoke
Glamorous Glutton
moinetteTeczcape: An Escape to Food
Laura from healthyjalapeno

fish biryani

Make Masala powder first. See below for recipe.

toasting the spices for the Masala powder

toasting the spices for the Masala powder

for the rice:

2 cup basmati rice
1 bay leaf
2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
Few peppercorns
¼ tsp kosher salt

Soak rice in plenty of water for about one hour. Drain. Place rice in a saucepan with 5 cups of water. Drop in salt, bay leaf, pepper corn, and parboil the rice for about 10 minutes. Do not overcook it! Drain and set aside.

for the fish:

1 lb monkfish cut into individual pieces, or any other firm white fish
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp Masala powder*
1tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp kosher salt

Make a paste by mixing lemon juice, garlic and ginger paste, salt and powders. Rub on fish pieces and marinate for about ½ hour. Keep it refrigerated if your kitchen gets too hot.

gently poaching the monkfish in the Masala sauce

gently poaching the monkfish in the Masala sauce

for the Masala sauce:

1 large onion, cut into thin half moon slices
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Serrano peppers, minced, ribs and seeds partially removed
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
A few mint leaves, julienned
1 tsp Aleppo pepper
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp fresh garlic paste
1 tsp fresh ginger paste
2 tbsp Masala powder *
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ajwain seeds
1 tsp black peppercorn
½ tsp allspice powder
¼ tsp clove powder
¼ tsp onion seeds
1½ cups plain yogurt
2 tbsp canola oil
A few strands saffron
1 tsp sugar

Add oil to a large skillet followed by onion and minced Serrano pepper. Cook until onion becomes wilted and translucent. Push onion to the side of skillet. Add ginger and garlic pastes, ajwain seeds, bay leaf, black peppercorn, Aleppo pepper, Masala powder, turmeric, allspice and clove powder, saffron, onion seeds, sugar and cook until raw smells dissipate. Add tomato, stir everything together and cook until tomatoes begin to dissolve. Mix yogurt with half cup of water and fold into the sauce. Carefully lay fish pieces over the Masala sauce, cover pan and cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes. Mix in cilantro and mint leaves.

At this point heat up the oven to 450F.

ready to layer the baking dish with rice and fish

ready to layer the baking dish with rice and fish

several layers of rice and fish to form my biryani

several layers of rice and fish to form my biryani

*for the Masala powder for fish

5 whole cloves
4 green cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks ~3 inch each
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin leaves
1 bay leaf
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 tbsp ground coriander

Place cloves, cardamom, fennel and bay leaf in a saucepan; put it over burner over high heat. Dry roast spices for a few minutes until aromatic, being careful not to burn it. Transfer to a coffee grinder and pulverize. Mix in ground nutmeg and coriander. (My coriander was already ground, if you have seeds use them instead).

to assemble the fish biryani:

Using an oven-proof baking dish with a cover, assemble the biryani with one layer of rice, followed by a layer of fish masala, and finish with the remaining Masala sauce. Repeat so you end up with three or four layers of all ingredients. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes. The rice will finish cooking in the masala sauce without becoming overly cooked. Remove from oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

If you haven’t had enough fish biryani yet, look here, here and here for other related versions.

{ 7 comments }

Like us, our friend Kristen adores Mediterranean, Middle/Near Eastern and North African foods. We haven’t seen her much since she was married so it was a real treat to have her spend the evening with us recently. Whenever she’s here, we hang out in the kitchen: cooking, snacking, sipping wine and caching up with the latest events of our lives. We always finish dinner late because there’s so much to talk about… and to eat. This time, it was all about North African cooking. This recipe, then, comes from Tess Mallos’ lovely book, North African Cooking (normally I’d put the link to Amazon, but as you know, we’re in California, so Amazon just dropped our affiliate agreement. Not that it really matters financially, since we never make a dime on it. But I’m sure that some of you like to look at the books we use. Sorry.)

broiled corvina in charmoula marinade

broiled corvina in charmoula marinade

I had already bought a couple pounds of Panamanian wild caught corvina steaks from our favorite fish market, Sun Fat in the Mission. And since Kristen and I talked before she arrived, I had also bought a jar of preserved lemons at a Middle Eastern store in the same area, already thinking we might need them for the dinner feast.

After a few focused minutes browsing the book, I landed on this recipe using charmoula marinade. Tess calls for tuna here, but the wild corvina turned out to be a perfect substitute. Corvina has a white and firm flesh with a delicate flavor, perfect for grilling or broiling, and very tasty.

The recipe calls for marinating the fish for a minimum of two hours and up to overnight. We didn’t have that much time, so we skimped and gave it only twenty minutes. Nevertheless, this dish came out as yummy as it can be. I guess everything is an adaptation here because we also tweaked the amount of ingredients in the sauce to adjust it to our tastes.

broiled corvina in charmoula marinade

2 lbs wild corvina steaks, rinsed and pat dried
1 small preserved lemon, seeds removed
2 large cloves garlic
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
¾ tsp sweet paprika
Large pinch saffron threads
¾ tsp ground cumin
Cayenne pepper to taste
Kosher salt
Juice of a large lemon
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

To make charmoula marinade, put everything except fish in food processor and blend to a paste.

Arrange corvina steaks on a glass baking dish then coat with charmoula sauce and let marinate for about 20 minutes (or more).

Set oven to broil.

Adjust oven rack to be as close as possible to the heat. Broil fish for about 10 minutes.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 500F for another 5 to 8 minutes. Check for doneness by piercing the thickest part of the fish. Remove from oven. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve with more preserved lemon and any leftover charmoula marinade. We had this with plain couscous and sautéed kale from our community garden plot.

broiled corvina in charmoula marinade is great with couscous and kale

broiled corvina in charmoula marinade is great with couscous and kale

{ 6 comments }

The first time I ate homemade paella was at our charming friend, Cesar Rennert’s, beautiful beach house in Remsenburg, on Long Island, NY, many summers ago. He prepared it himself, which was already remarkable, as he much prefers eating out at restaurants. It was simply incredible: so many thrilling and flavorful ingredients, and the final dish, presented family style at table, was so colorful. He taught us how to make paella that very day.

seafood paella with Maine lobster

seafood paella with Maine lobster

The following year we went on vacation to Spain. Ah, Spain: what a marvelous destination. Actually we didn’t expect much before going. It was David’s idea. Then Steven and I were more fascinated by Italy than anyplace else. But wow! Spain rocks. So much history, gorgeous people, delicious food, and you’re practically swimming in olive oil wherever you go. I like that. As a souvenir, we bought a non-stick paella pan from the gourmet supermarket chain, El Corte Inglés.

We’ve been using it since, for lots of things, including some of paella’s many tasty cousins, like pilaf and polow.

Paella is great for a party because it tends to be big, beautiful and impresses a crowd. Do you make paella? What kind? In Spain, there were so many varieties that you could get entire cookbooks devoted to paella, make a new recipe every day and probably be able to cook something different for a whole year.

This lobster paella was a special treat for my niece’s recent California visit. We went to our favorite, Sun Fat, for the freshest seafood. Impulsively, Steven suggested the lobster. I wasn’t so sure, since the whole Dungeness crab slaughter in December, I didn’t think that I was ready for a repeat performance quite yet. But they’re great at Sun Fat, and did the dirty deed for me. I didn’t watch the gruesome spectacle. Instead I selected the rest of the seafood.

This was my first go cooking lobster. I sort of improvised after the Joy of Cooking let me down (they only teach you how to cook it whole), thinking of it as very large shrimp or something. The final dish was really good. This is interactive food. You need to use your hands to really get the most out of it, so perhaps this isn’t for upscale dining.

assembling the seafood paella

assembling the seafood paella

seafood paella with Maine lobster

2lb fresh lobster, split in half and cleaned
1lb cleaned squid bodies and tentacles, bodies cut into rings
1lb mahi-mahi steak, cut into 1inch cubes
1lb large sea scallops
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
1 cup Thai Jasmine rice, rinsed
1 lb small clams (little neck)
~4 cups (homemade) vegetable broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup Spanish green olives, sliced
1 tsp Spanish sweet paprika
1 small container saffron threads (a large pinch)
½ cup dry white wine
Arbequina olive oil
Black pepper
1 cup sweet peas
1 red bell pepper, diced
Sea salt
Wedges of lemon (optional)

Make vegetable broth by boiling water for about 10 minutes with bits of vegetables from your fridge. I used stalks of collard greens and celery, couple of slices of onion, one carrot. Set aside.

Briefly scald red pepper and peas in vegetable broth, set aside.

Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to paella pan along with half of garlic. Sizzle for a minute or so. Add lobster, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, cover pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until lobster shell turns red. Crack claws. Transfer lobster to a platter. Pour excess juice into a bowl.

Return pan to burner. Add a bit more of olive oil to it then the fish. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, cook for a minute or so on each side. The inside will be a bit raw but that’s okay. Transfer to a warm platter. Pour any excesses juices into bowl with lobster juice. Prepare the scallops the same.

Return pan to burner, add a bit of olive oil to pan then squid. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and cook just for a minute, remove from pan as the squid begins to curl. Transfer juices to lobster juice bowl.

Return paella pan to burner, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add saffron and paprika and stir to tint the oil. Add rice, seafood juice and broth to make up to approximately 3½ cups of liquid. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce temp to medium and let it cook until juices are about three fourths absorbed.

Meanwhile heat up one tablespoon olive oil in a small pan, add remaining garlic, salt, black pepper and sauté until aromatic. Add clams. Shake pan so clamshells get covered with olive oil. Add wine, cover and cook on high heat until most clams have opened. Immediately remove from heat. Let rest for few minutes, covered, so the remaining clams will open. If there are any that don’t, discard them. Pour remaining wine/clam juice over rice. Remove and discard the clamshell without any meat in it. Keep meat-filled clamshells warm.

Stir pepper and peas into wet rice. Arrange lobster halves, mahi-mahi cubes, scallops, clams in half shells, squid bodies and tentacles over it. Cover and let it finish cooking for another 5 minutes. Scatter olives over, drizzle with a bit more of olive oil and serve with wedges of lemon.

{ 10 comments }

I was desperate to create something lively and flavorful for dinner the other night without a huge amount of prep or excessive amounts of grocery shopping. Inexplicably, our fridge was filled with beautiful poblano and red bell peppers, so I thought, “Why not stuff these?”

poblano and red bell peppers stuffed with saffron rice

poblano and red bell peppers stuffed with saffron rice

Visually, stuffed peppers are always a delight. Don’t you agree? Marcella Hazan has a really tasty recipe for peppers stuffed with eggplant and anchovies. Yum! I even like them when the stuffing gets all over the place, like when I made chile rellenos. Messy can be very good.

The problem with a lot of these recipes is that they require you to remove the outer skin of the pepper. That is a lot of work! And it is the step in which I’ll inevitably accidentally destroy the peppers, thus stuffing them becomes difficult to impossible. Well, thank goodness for the 1997 Joy of Cooking. That book came to the rescue again. In their stuffed pepper dish, they call for steaming the peppers with no peeling at all. This is so much easier, and equally delicious!

I used poblanos as well as reds. The recipe in the book calls only for the reds. Also I used pepitas instead of pine nuts, added more herbs than they recommended as well as capers and green olives to give the dish a little kick.

These stuffed peppers had an extremely delicate flavor that was marvelous. We preferred the poblanos over the reds as they had a more complex taste. We ate ours with arugula salad and an extremely aromatic pinot noir from Eric Kent. What a memorable meal!

poblano and red bell peppers stuffed with saffron rice

2 fresh poblano peppers
2 fresh medium red bell peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and cut in thin slices
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pinch saffron threads
1½ cups basmati rice, well rinsed
2½ cups vegetable stock
2 cups shredded provolone cheese
¼ cup pepitas, lightly toasted in a dry pan
¼ cup each chopped basil, parsley and cilantro
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
¼ cup green olives and capers

Carefully cut peppers in half to create little boat-shapes while preserving stems as much as possible. Remove inner seeds and ribs. Steam for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool under running water. Set aside.

steaming poblano and red bell peppers:  I took off the lid for this picture

steaming poblano and red bell peppers: I took off the lid part-way through steaming for this picture

Sauté onion, garlic and saffron in olive oil on medium heat until onions start to brown (about five minutes). Add rice and stir to mix with oil. Add vegetable stock. Bring to boil then lower temperature to simmer, covered, until rice gets cooked and all the water gets absorbed (about 10 to 15 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Pour cooled rice in a large bowl. Add cheese, fresh herbs, pepitas, salt, black pepper and olives and capers. Gently stir.

Carefully fill peppers with rice mixture. Place them in an oven-proof baking dish, fitting them tightly together. After all peppers are stuffed, carefully pour ¼ cup water around them into the base of the dish. Cover with foil and bake for thirty minutes to warm through.

Serve with salad.

stuffed peppers crowded together ready for the oven

stuffed peppers crowded together ready for the oven

{ 8 comments }

eggplant kuku

by Stevie on January 27, 2011

My parents were in town over the weekend. They live way across the Country in Virginia, so a visit is a welcome treat. This was a working trip as they’re paying for us to have our kitchen remodeled. That is incredibly generous!

eggplant kuku

eggplant kuku

We didn’t have time for sightseeing as we spent most of it planning for the new kitchen, ordering things, negotiating bids, etc. I had no idea how tremendously stressful changing the kitchen could actually be! My folks are pros and are very excited about the project! My father keeps reminding me that this will be his “sixth kitchen.” The first two he remodeled himself. He tries to reassure me that “next time” I won’t have any problems arranging things on my own. I’m still far from convinced on that, and pray that this will be my first and only kitchen remodel.

That said, we planned an extra special dinner in their honor. Hegui made his classic quinoa love. I bought an aged magnum of Châteauneuf du Pape, we invited several friends, we had a big leafy salad and we even grilled steak for the meat eaters in the family. I made this eggplant kuku as a side for the meal.

I’d never made or even heard about kukus before. There are lots of recipes for them in my new favorite cookbook, Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies by Najmieh Batmanglij. To me, they seem sort of like elaborate omelets or perhaps quiche without crust. I used a lot more oil than was recommended in the book to cook the eggplant, which makes this a bit naughty. But what could I do? Eggplant is always so thirsty for olive oil. The dish turned out to have a wonderful, subtle flavor and seemed a big success at the party.

eggplant kuku

2 large eggplant
¾ cup olive oil or butter
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 eggs
4 tbsp chopped parsley
¼ tsp saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp warm water
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp and 1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Peel eggplant and cut each into about five slices lengthwise. Retain some of the eggplant peel to make simple decorations on top of the kuku. (I soaked the peel with the eggplant and while I pan-fried the flesh, I trimmed the peel into more uniform strips.) Soak eggplant in water with 2 tbsp salt for about twenty minutes. Drain, rinse and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 350.

Using a large skillet, fry eggplant slices in about “¼ cup” olive oil until they soften and become golden brown. I did this in two batches. Remove to a large bowl and mash. Sauté onion and garlic in same pan until slightly browned. Add to mashed eggplant.

Pour ¼ cup olive oil in round baking dish and let heat in oven.

In another bowl, beat eggs then mix in parsley, saffron, limejuice, baking powder, flour, 1 tsp salt and black pepper. Pour eggplant vegetable mix into eggs and fold together well. Pour into hot baking dish. Carefully place retained eggplant peel over top in a decorative way.

Bake uncovered for thirty minutes. Pour remaining ¼ cup olive oil over eggplant. Bake another thirty minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool a bit. Serve and enjoy!

{ 4 comments }

harrisa, pigeon pea and saffron studded bulgur

harrisa, pigeon pea and saffron studded bulgur

The Jan/Feb 2011 Vegetarian Times magazine just came out. They’ve an interesting recipe for bulgur to accompany a roasted broccoli with tahini sauce. I made both dishes the other day but couldn’t resist altering the bulgur recipe. The original calls for it to be cooked with raisins, vegetable broth, tomato paste and that’s all. Don’t you think it would taste too sweet?

I like the idea of the tartness of the raisins but I was not so sure about it, at least to go with the broccoli. Roasted broccoli is already very sweet. Destiny intervened: I discovered that we’d run out of raisins. Problem solved. Instead I cooked the bulgur with some spicy harissa sauce, a few strands of saffron, and, to add extra protein to the dish, I also used some pigeon peas.

It came out very flavorful with the added bonus of having a healthy hippie granola style look. Fabulous!

harrisa, pigeon pea and saffron studded bulgur

2 cups coarse bulgur
2½ cups vegetable broth*
1 can pigeon peas, drained
½ tsp harissa sauce
several saffron threads
3 tbsp tomato paste
black pepper
kosher salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

*I prefer to make my own vegetable broth. For this one, I had the top dark leaves of four leeks, half an onion and a carrot. Just throw everything together in a pot with some water, bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes. Leftovers can be frozen for later use. Endless permutations are possible. You can use onion peel, celery, parsley, cilantro, etc. This makes a fresher broth without as much salt and who-knows-what preservatives. Anytime a recipe calls for vegetable broth search the vegetable tray of you fridge. You’ll be surprised to see all that you need is there. Cheap and healthy!

Add hot vegetable broth, harrisa, saffron threads, tomato paste, black pepper and kosher salt to a pot. Stir to combine. Add bulgur and pigeon peas, stir again, turn temperature to low and simmer for about 15-18 minutes. To prevent sticking stir every 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered for 5 minutes before serving.

This would make a great filling in a vegetable casserole, too.

We had bulgur leftover which we ate the following day wrapped in toasted nori leaves (dry seaweed sheets like you have at sushi bars). Mmmmm!!!!

{ 3 comments }

Shirazi baked saffron polow with spinach

April 14, 2010

Recently Hegui took up this book, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors. Among other things, it says that the words “polow,” “pilau,” “paella,” and “pilaf” all essentially mean the same thing: a dish made of rice mixed with other ingredients. That’s interesting. Today’s polow comes from my favorite, Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey! […]

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Susa polow with lentils, currants and dates

February 9, 2010

I’ve been thrilled lately to be cooking from Najmieh Batmanglij’s Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey. Her rice dishes all turn out exciting and quite different from things that I’ve ever made before. This Susa polow is no exception. The book says that Susa was the capital of Elam, an ancient bronze-age kingdom in what’s […]

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