I wasn’t always a fan of leftovers, they just seemed. . .boring? And then one day I realized that leftovers can be much more than simply whatever you ate the day before reheated and plopped on a plate, they can be beautiful and, well, creative. For example: last winter I found myself with a kettle of nearly inedible garlic and harissa soup that I couldn’t bear to throw down the drain. Thus, I found myself chopping and browning chicken breast and adding precooked orzo pasta to fill out the soup and improve upon the flavor.
And then this last week I stumbled upon the best leftovers: a lovely Bulgur Pilaf from Anna Thomas’s “The New Vegetarian Epicure.” I was convinced that the pilaf itself was a miracle side dish since you combine the ingredients and then leave it in your oven for an hour where it becomes a wonderful and fluffy combination of grains, onions, and raisins that are topped with pine nut almonds because that’s what I had!
Day one: I served it along with a stewed chicken dish it was great, really quite nice.
Day two: I served it with left over stewed chicken and a topping of sauté spinach, also wonderful.
Day three: this is where the creativity begins! I had some ground beef that needed to be used and there was just enough of that bulgur pilaf left not to want to throw it out but it wasn’t going to go far on its own. Also, my fridge was looking a little bare but I did have a new bag of carrots, some celery, a tomato, and some frozen corn in the freezer. And thus was born a bulgur pilaf bowl worthy of repetition!
Love from CO,
- ½ lb. ground beef
- 1 c. carrots cut into 1/8 inch chunks (I used four smallish carrots)
- 2 large stalks of celery
- 1 cup frozen (or fresh) corn kernels
- 1 medium tomato
- ½ Tbs. garam masala (I use the Penzeys spice mix)
- ½ recipe bulgur pilaf (Recipe follows)
- Olive oil for cooking
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toasted Almonds to Garnish (10 per person and I roast in a 350° oven for 12 minutes)
Heat a frying pan over medium heat and cook ground beef until it begins to turn brown, add your chopped carrots, celery, a little salt and pepper, and the garam masala at this point (depending on the fat content of your meat you may want to add a glug of olive oil to keep things from sticking). Continue to satay the beef mixture until the carrots begin to soften (about 8 minutes). Slice your tomato into wedges and, when the carrots are just tender, add the tomatoes to the ground beef along with your bulgur pilaf and corn. Continue to heat through until the whole mixture is hot but the tomatoes still hold their shape. Adjust salt and pepper and feel free to add additional spice mix to your desired heat level. Spoon into bowls and serve topped with whole (or chopped almonds) and, if you have some around, a spoonful of plain yogurt here would also be spectacular. (about 4 servings)
Ann Thompson’s Bulgur Pilaf with Fennel, Raisins, and Pine Nuts (serves 10-12 as a side)
- 2 medium yellow onions (2 cups chopped)
- 2 small fennel bulbs (1/12 cups chopped)
- 1-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups bulgur
- 4 cups hot vegetable broth (I substituted boiling water and 1 Tbs. better than bouillon chicken stock base)
- 1/2 cup raisins of your choice (I used black she used golden)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
Peel and chop the onions. Trim the fennel bulbs, wash them carefully, and cut them into 1/2-inch dice. Sauté the onions, fennel, and minced garlic in the olive oil, stirring often, until the vegetables take on a nice golden-brown color. Add some salt and pepper-more or less, depending on the saltiness of the broth you will use.
Add the dry bulgur and stir it in the hot pan with the vegetables for a few minutes. Then add the hot vegetable broth and the raisins.
Pour the whole mixture into a large casserole or gratin dish, cover tightly, and bake it in a 350° oven for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts: Heat them in a small pan, stirring constantly, until they begin to brown. Do not turn away to answer the phone! This only takes a few moments, and they’ll burn in an instant if you take your eyes off them. When they are toast-colored and give off a divine fragrance, just set them aside in a bowl.
After 40 minutes, when the pilaf is ready remove the cover from the pilaf and check to make sure all the liquid has been absorbed. If not, leave it in the oven for a few more minutes. Then fluff the pilaf with a fork and
stir in the toasted pine nuts. Use the bulgur pilaf without the added pine nuts for the previous recipe.