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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.

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is the kind of dish that seems perfect in every way – healthy, savory & spicy, easy to execute. I’m headed to the Farmers’ Market this afternoon and making it with sauteed mushrooms on top (for me, Norma, & Roger at least – we’ll see if any shoppers get to sample it!).

    June 13, 2012
    • You got it. And it’s really so darn good I can’t stop eating it. And mushrooms would be lovely!

      June 13, 2012
  2. I am eager to try this, but don’t do bulgur anymore. I am wondering about quinoa or brown rice. HMM.

    June 13, 2012
    • Brown rice maybe. .. I’m not sure the water quantity would work out as is but you never know. You really don’t want it soupy. Give it a try and report back! And quinoa might work but the flavor of course is very different but might be good too. . ..

      June 13, 2012
  3. Mary Lane #

    So far I’ve tried New Seasons and Fred’s for harissa; no luck. Where do you get your Mustapha’s?

    June 13, 2012
    • I looked today for Mustapha’s as well with no luck. I did find a jar of harissa at Pastaworks–different brand but looks good though i haven’t tried it. Make sure you taste it before you use it gauge the heat level. I’m going to have to track down Mustapha’s again though because it’s so good and a bit cheaper.

      June 13, 2012
      • Mary Lane #

        I made my own from an online recipe, with mild chilis. It was good! What’s the function of the paper towels? I’m going to try it again without.

        June 14, 2012
    • Lynette #

      Mary Lane, I also looked at New Seasons, Whole Foods, Zupan’s and Market of Choice for harissa… no luck. However, like you, I found a recipe online (Epicurious) and it turned out great.

      June 17, 2012
      • Oh you wonderfully resourceful folks! I will have to do this myself. And sorry to have sent you on such a wild goose chase. I purchased mine not so long ago. …

        June 17, 2012
      • I just realized there’s also a recipe for harissa in the cookbook “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi. I’ll have to try that one next time. It looks yummy!

        June 17, 2012
  4. The paper towels create much more intense steam in the mixture. Curious to hear how it compares with out. Glad you were so resourceful with the harissa!

    June 14, 2012
  5. Oh Lynette, I had no idea there was a recipe for harissa in Plenty. A book I feel like I know inside and out. All the wonderful things I learn from you all! Thanks!

    June 17, 2012
  6. Rosemary #

    Can this dish be prepared the day before eating-or the morning of-and reheated without losing quality? (I will let you know if I can find harissa in Corvallis.)

    June 17, 2012
    • Yes, I think it’s wonderful the next day and reheats well. Do report on the dish and the harissa. I know Pastaworks in Portland carries it.

      June 17, 2012
  7. Rosemary #

    Market of Choice in Corvallis has Mustapha’s Harrisa in a 10 oz jar for $5.79.

    June 17, 2012
  8. The “International Food Supply” store on Stark (& 76th or 78th?) has 2 kinds of harissa – and small cans in case you want to try it out without a large can commitment (plus they are inexpensive). Both are fine for this dish, if you can’t make it to Corvallis or don’t want to make your own.

    June 17, 2012
  9. Jennifer Allen #

    I tried this recipe the other night and loved it! I also couldn’t find any harissa so just used some other chile sauce I had – will definitely look at the Int’l Store on Stark. Thanks for the great ideas!

    June 20, 2012

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