I have a new obsession: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Okay, two new obsessions. The first is the Joss Whedon series, which HOTUS and I have somehow missed entirely up until now, and which we are loving like one would love unlimited mimosas or the first hydrangeas of spring. I suddenly get Sarah Michelle Gellar, and see why one might consider three-foot-two-inch Seth “Scott Evil” Green a sex symbol. Also, Alyson Hannigan’s hairdresser has to call me immediately.
The second obsession is bulgur wheat. It’s not nearly as witty, and the DVDs are much harder to collect, but over the last few months, the stuff has become one of my favorite things on earth.
A briefing: Bulgur wheat is a chewy, nutty, slightly sweet whole grain. High in fiber and protein, it’s an excellent substitute for quinoa, brown rice, and other whole grains. I always buy Bob’s Red Mill brand, which is quick cooking, fairly easy to find, and reasonably priced. The only thing wrong with the food, is that I constantly get the name wrong, typing it as “wheat bulgur.” (Oh, the hijinks we get into here.)
I’ve made this fabulous grain into casseroles. I’ve made it into salads. I’ve made it into chicken burgers (recipe coming later today on Serious Eats). And now, I’ve made it into this pilaf, from Moosewood’s Simple Suppers. So. Good.
HOTUS and I just arrived home from a weekend away, and didn’t have many (read: any) fresh vegetables lying around. We did, however, have dried cranberries, an orange, a lemon, and a couple of walnuts. Those are the main flavor components of this sweet side dish, though rosemary, onions, and garlic all play supporting roles. Assembled, it’s worthy of a weeknight dinner, weekend guests, or even … stay with me here … Thanksgiving. (Seriously, this would totally work as an alternative to stuffing. Cross my heart, hope to meet some pilgrims.)
Whether or not you decide to give this dish a try (you should, though), I suggest at least buying a big bag of bulgur wheat. If nothing else, you can throw it at your Buffy marathon every time David Boreanaz attempts an Irish accent.
If you’d like to make sweet sexy talk to this, you’d flip for:
Cranberry Bulgur Wheat Pilaf
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon dried crumbed rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups wheat bulgur
1 1/2 cups water or chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1) Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and pinch of salt and sauté onion is soft, about 10 minutes.
2) While onion is cooking, zest and juice the orange. Add zest, rosemary and wheat bulgur to onions. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add orange juice, water/stock and cranberries. Stir to combine. Drop heat to low, cover, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until wheat bulgur is softened. (It should be chewy, but not crunchy.) If not fully cooked by the end, add 1/4 cup water and give it another few minutes.
3) Kill heat. Stir in lemon juice and soy sauce. Add walnuts. Stir. Salt and pepper to taste. (Salting this correctly will make a ton of difference.) Serve.
Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
4 servings: 412 calories, 14 g fat, 13.1 g fiber, 10 g protein, $1.10
6 servings: 275 calories, 9.4 g fat, 8.7 g fiber, 6.6 g protein, $0.73
NOTE: I used water instead of broth, fresh rosemary, Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Bulgur Wheat, and walnuts. The calculations reflect that.
2 tablespoons olive oil: 239 calories, 27 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.20
1 cup chopped onion: 67 calories, 0.2 g fat, 2.2 g fiber, 1.5 g protein, $0.40
3 garlic cloves, minced: 13 calories, 0 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, 0.6 g protein, $0.12
Pinch of salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein per serving, $0.01
1 orange worth of zest: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein per serving, Free
1 orange worth of juice: 39 calories, 0.2 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, 0.6 g protein, $0.33
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein per serving, $0.33
1 1/2 cups wheat bulgur: 840 calories, 3 g fat, 42 g fiber, 30 g protein, $1.36
1 1/2 cups water: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein per serving, Free
1/2 cup dried cranberries: 182 calories, 0.7 g fat, 5 g fiber, 0.2 g protein, $0.50
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice: 4 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.30
1 tablespoon soy sauce: 8 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, 1 g protein, $0.09
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds: 255 calories, 25.4 g fat, 2.6 g fiber, 5.9 g protein, $0.75
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein per serving, $0.01
TOTAL: 1647 calories, 56.5 g fat, 52.3 g fiber, 39.8 g protein, $4.40
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 412 calories, 14 g fat, 13.1 g fiber, 10 g protein, $1.10
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 275 calories, 9.4 g fat, 8.7 g fiber, 6.6 g protein, $0.73