Bringing back bulgur

There was a time when I cooked bulgur several times a month.  The par-boiled and ground wheat was cheap, filling, and a great base for one-pot meals with vegetables and chicken.

I loved the mild, nutty flavor and nicely chewy texture.  But bulgur slipped out of my repertoire when I began experimenting more in the kitchen and homey pilafs gave way to sophisticated risottos.

This winter, though, I’ve rediscovered the simple pleasures of the quick-cooking grain in my quest to put more whole grains on our plates.  Prepared in the style of a risotto with mushrooms, butternut squash and spinach, it makes a terrific entree for Meatless Monday or a side dish for grilled meat. Continue reading Bringing back bulgur

Radishes in winter

The poor radish gets no respect in America.  We take it for granted, barely registering its crisp snap and remarking only when it gets a little too spicy for comfort in the scorching hot days of summer.  It’s merely the supporting actor in the garden salad, the splash of color on the crudité platter.

The French, however, have long appreciated the humble roots for their satisfying texture and gentle bite, serving them with sweet butter and sea salt.   Asian cooks treasure the more pungent varieties for pickles and stir fries.

I say it’s time to give radishes their due on this continent.    They’re the stars in this winter salad, which makes the most of what’s in season right now. Continue reading Radishes in winter

Turning over a New Leaf

One of the best gifts I received over the holidays was an introduction to this kale salad. I spotted it in the deli case when I was shopping at my local natural foods store a couple of days after Christmas and bought a quarter pound on a whim.

It was an instant hit.  My family and I began nibbling on little bits of sesame seed flecked Kale right out of the carton as soon as we got home and it never made it to the dinner table.

With all the crunchy textures and savory Asian flavors, the dish reminded me of the seaweed salad I always order at sushi bars. Most of the ingredients were readily identified–raw kale, red onion, sunflower sprouts and a trio of pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds. I wasn’t sure about the dressing, though.  It tasted a lot like soy sauce, yet not quite. Continue reading Turning over a New Leaf

Pea soup is the answer

After the excesses of the holidays, all I want to eat right now is simple, nutritious food.  I loved all those cookies, extravagant meals and festive cocktails – far too much, I’m afraid.  My body needs a break.

If you feel the same way, I’ve got a soup for you.  This split pea soup takes just minutes to put together and only a little more time to cook, thanks to the pressure cooker.  You could cook it in a regular pot, too, although it will take a little longer to cook the peas until tender and require careful watching to avoid scorching. Continue reading Pea soup is the answer