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New Favorite One-pot Meal (+ an Egg)

Lots of chopped greens, onions, garlic, harissa and a bit of bulgur turn into a heavenly pot of goodness after an hour of gentle steaming. 

A friend of mine raved about this dish at a dinner party the other night. It took me a week to finally make it and then I made it twice in a row–the second time to take to another dinner party where it was happily devoured. It’s a humble, somewhat subtle dish that is perfectly suited to any climate that has an abundance of hearty greens (chard, kale, mustards, etc. ). And I can’t wait to play around with other spices and toppings. But for now here is more or less the way it was conveyed to me and I believe it originated with Paula Wolfert, so no wonder it’s a keeper. Please report back and tell me how it works for you and if you adapt it.

After its hour-long steam it’s ready for lemon, a fried (or poached) egg, more harissa and Greek yogurt.

Moroccan Bulgur with Greens
–inspired by Paula Wolfert 

This takes time to cook but putting it together is quick and just involves a bunch of chopping. It is delicious with a fried or poached egg and extra harissa and some Greek yogurt. And if you like lamb, it’s a perfect accompaniment to lamb in any form. Harissa is a Tunisia hot chili sauce whose main ingredients are piri piri (type of chili pepper), Serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and garlic, coriander, red chili powder, and caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil. It is most closely associated with Tunisia, Libya and Algeria but recently also making inroads into Morocco according to Moroccan food expert Paula Wolfert. I particularly like the brand Mustafa’s Moroccan Harissa which is very flavorful and not too crazy spicy.

1 large onion, finely diced
1 leek, carefully washes, sliced in half lengthwise and then finely chopped (or more onion if you don’t have any leeks)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch de-stemmed and chopped chard
1 cup bulgur
3 tablespoons. olive oil
2-3 teaspoons (or more to taste) harissa (see headnote) I used 4-5 teaspoons but with other brands that might be too much.
Black pepper, freshly ground
Sea or kosher salt (at least 1 teaspoon)
Lemon juice
More harissa and Greek yogurt for serving

Add everything but the lemon juice to a deep heavy, lidded pot. (Le Creuset is great). Mix it all together with a spoon or your hands. Add 1/2 cup water and mix thoroughly again.

Take several paper towels and lay them over the bulgur mixture, tucking them gently into the sides. Cover the pot and cook over very low heat for about an hour or so. Resist the urge to remove the lid since the steam generated is a critical factor. I typically start with high heat to get things going, then, when I sense the presence of steam and can start to smell the dish, reduce it significantly.

When it is finished, remove the paper towels, taste and, if necessary, continue to cook with the paper towels intact again.

Squeeze a lemon over the finished bulgur and top with more harissa and Greek yogurt or a poached or fried egg.

It makes me hungry just writing this caption. The lemon juice is important to brighten everything up a bit but if you don’t have a lemon extra harissa will probably do.

When Time is Short – Chickpea Avocado Salad Sandwich

Cooked chickpeas are mashed together with avocado, cilantro, green onion and lots of lemon juice. Eat by the spoonful, on/between toasted bread, in a tortilla, as a dip. . . .you get the point. It’s delicious and versatile.

Time has been short for my lately, hence my long absence here. I’ve been consumed with all sorts of projects and I have missed this place. So, hello again!

These busy weeks have had a few silver linings, one of which was that I was probably living more like many of my students (and possibly readers) who have far less time than me to spend in the kitchen and less time thinking about what to make for ourselves and our families on a daily basis. And thus I have gained a bit of perspective and have some new ideas about how to eat well and with minimal stress (and minimal processed food) in times of heavy workloads.

Yesterday I taught a class as part of the Wellness Program for county employees. Many of them work 10-hour days and getting a healthy, delicious meal on the table is really a stretch. I taught three things (a frittata with snap peas, herbs and feta; an arugula, white bean and tuna salad, and this chickpea avocado dish). They were all devoured but this one was met with the most initial skepticism and then maybe loved the most–for its adaptability, speed, and flavor. I also love this dish because it uses herbs in great, heaping quantities. I’m teaching an herb class in July because I’m almost as much of an herb evangelist as I am a bean evangelist.

If you have pre-cooked chickpeas on hand (or you can use canned ones after rinsing well) this comes together in minutes.

I got the idea for this salad/spread/dip here and have since made it with mint instead of cilantro, green garlic instead of green onions, cumin and smoked paprika, and Serrano chilies and lime juice instead of lemon. You can mash it really well for an almost hummus like consistency or leave it chunky. You can thin it down with more bean cooking liquid, water or more juice and olive oil. You can make a big batch and have it for lunch several times in a row. . . .In other words, it’s a perfect cook-with-what-you-have/like candidate.

You can just gently mix all ingredients or mash them together well for completely different consistencies.

Chickpea and Avocado Salad/Sandwich
–inspired by twopeasandapod.com

This is delicious as a dip, on toasted bread, as a sandwich filling or just as is. You can adapt this in many ways too—add your favorite hot chilies or hot sauce, different spices or herbs, etc. See more ideas for variations above. I particularly like using mint or basil or a combination. Tarragon and chives are good and so is parsley.

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 greens onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1 small or ½ a large, ripe avocado
1/3 cup (or more) chopped cilantro (stems and all)
Juice of half a lemon or lime (or more to taste)
Splash of good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Mash the chickpeas in a bowl, add all the remaining ingredients and mash some more and mix well. If you want to serve it more like a salad or side, just lightly mash the chickpeas and dice the avocado and mix everything together more gently. You don’t need to achieve such a uniform texture in that case.