Tuesday, May 15, 2012

tastes like summer



As I ate my lunch today, I read the foreward to A Platter of Figs. Alice Waters wrote that David Tanis knows “creating a meal means creating your own reality.” I wrote the phrase on a post-it, and stuck it inside my spice cabinet door. Truer words were never spoken.

Our collective family life often gets busy during the school year. I’d love to be able to say we’re around the table, lingering, every night. During the school year, on weeknights, there is always a night – or two – when dinner is something quick, sometimes even in the car. In those pockets of busyness we do what we can to stay connected, to check in with each other all the same, to eat well.

This salad is in regular rotation here in warmer weather; sometimes enjoyed in the bleachers at a baseball game on a school night. When I took my first bite, I was surprised to be taken instantly to a picnic blanket in my mind’s eye. A taste memory from last summer.

The flavor improves with time - make it a few hours before you’re going to eat it (or even the day before, if you leave out the tomatoes and walnuts until the last minute).

Lentil-Bulgur Salad
Adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

According to the author, “Similar to Tabouli, but more complex (although no more difficult to prepare), this salad is a perfectly balanced protein dish that can be served as a main course – especially for lunch on a hot summer day. All you need to complete the meal is toasted pita bread and some ripe fresh fruit for dessert. This is also a good dish to bring to potluck parties. You can easily double the amounts.”

1 cup French lentils, picked through for pebbles and such
3 cups water

1 cup dry bulgur wheat
1 cup boiling water

¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint, or 2 teaspoons dried mint
2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill, or 2 to 3 teaspoons dried dill
fresh black pepper, to taste
½ packed cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup finely minced red onion
1 small bell pepper, any color, diced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup Nicoise olives (1/4 lb.)
1 medium sized tomato, sliced
½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
wedges of lemons, for garnish

In a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with the 3 cups water, and bring them just to the boiling point. Turn the heat way down, partially cover, and allow them to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are tender but not mushy. Drain well, and rinse under cold water. Transfer the cooked lentils to a large bowl.

While the lentils are cooking, place the bulgur in a small bowl – I use a cereal bowl. Add the cup of boiling water, cover with a plate, and let it stand, undisturbed, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add everything to the lentils, except the tomatoes, walnuts, and lemon wedges, and mix gently. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Just before serving, top with the tomatoes and walnuts, or serve them on the side. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Yield: 6 servings

5 comments:

Darcy said...

this looks wonderful! thank you!!

Lecia said...

Thanks, Darcy!

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

I keep forgetting I need lentils. Now I'm even more motivated to remember. I like the variety of herbs in here, and I don't think I've ever purchased bulgur for home cooking. Nice idea. Thanks.

molly said...

I love Moosewood, still; it was my first cookbook, bought my freshman year in college. Somehow, all these years, I've missed this. Thanks for rectifying that.

KPiep said...

My moose wood books are by far my favorites, even though we no longer use them. (some recipes are adaptable for our needs...most are too heavy on grains or dairy). Our own dinners as a family are improving, though, and we are finding more and more time to sit down together.