First, pears. The winner of the Harry and David pear six-pack is commenter #74 – DVS – who tells us:
love love love H&D pears, though I haven’t had one in years. My favorite gift are the hand-decorated tiny gingerbread cookies my 92 year-old grandmother-in-law sends us every year.
Congratulations! Send me an email so we can get you those pears!
A question that I get on a semi-frequent basis is whether or not I went to culinary school. I did not. I am a self-taught cook. I learned by reading cookbooks, cooking a lot, and taking an occasional class here and there. I love taking classes and always walk away with something that makes the cost and the time worth it. I have two dear friends who attend all my cooking classes and they call all the little things they learn the “worth the price of admission tips”. My friends have offered to write a guest post with their top ten of my tips. Hopefully we’ll have that within the next month or so.
Anyway, we had a vegetarian cookbook author named Lukas Volger come to Book Larder recently. He has a book called Vegetarian Entrées That Won’t Leave You Hungry. The book is great. I pick up a lot of vegetarian cookbooks and 90% of the time, I put them back down because they contain the same old recipes that I have many versions of already. Not this book. The food is different but not “out there”. Hearty but not heavy. Food I want to cook. And eat.
Lukas is young and wiry and adorable. He was effortless in the kitchen but not cocky. He made three delicious dishes. (Full disclosure, I did the prep work.) When making this super tasty bulgur salad, he turned the heat up higher than I would have and got a nice char on the red onions. The onions became not just a barely noticeable background flavor and texture but a full fledged lusty ingredient in their own right. I always sauté my onions the same way, so it was nice to watch something different and then get to taste it.
Lukas allowed us to all taste the salad and then we stuffed it into bell peppers that had been steamed. I thought it was a lovely entrée and one day, when I spied bags of little bell peppers in the produce section, I knew bite-size versions were going on my next catering menu.
The recipe for the bulgur salad makes quite a bit so you can be confident that, even it if you use it to stuff peppers, you will get some delicious lunches out of it. Just as an added note, you can steam peppers, large or small, by cutting them in half and scraping out the seeds and veins. Place them in a large skillet (one with a lid) and pour in a bit of water. Bring to a simmer and cover for 3 minutes, turn over and steam for another 3 minutes. When Lukas made the larger peppers in the store, he placed them, filled, in a baking dish and covered it with foil. They went into a 400º oven for about 20 minutes. I didn’t bake my small ones.
One Year Ago: Roasted Mushroom with Shallots and Fresh Herbs
Two Years Ago: Creamy Artichoke Dip
Three Years Ago: Spinach and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
Bulgur Salad with Kale and Feta
Vegetarian Entrées That Won’t Leave You Hungry
If you are going to stuff small peppers, I recommend you dice the onions and cut the kale into smaller pieces so that you don’t have any bits that are too large.
1 cup bulgur
2 cups water
1 tbsp. canola oil or other neutral oil
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small red onion, sliced into strips
2 jalapeño peppers, minced (seeded for a milder heat level)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup dry white wine or water
½ bunch kale, cut into thin strips
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp. olive oil
Combine the bulgur and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, until tender. Strain off any water that hasn’t been absorbed.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the neutral oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and let sizzle until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and cook until it’s browned around the edges, about 6 minutes. Stir in the jalapeños, garlic, and salt. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the kale and cook, tossing from time to time, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the scallions, cilantro, feta, cooked bulgur, and olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold. (Stored in an airtight container, this salad will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.)