Let me introduce you to the perfect side dish ... this is a fruity, spicy dish of bulgur with sweet red peppers, sweet Vidalia onions, and a hint of tomato paste. It is such a surprise to me because I have tried bulgur in the past and it has always been too chewy, too coarse, to dry. But THIS bulgur is none of those things. Yotam Ottolenghi credits this dish to a friend - Itamar Srulovich. I fell for making it when I saw the illustration in YO's cookbook called Plenty. It reminded me of couscous and when I read the description of the bulgur needed (medium grind), I thought that I might have to try bulgur one more time.
Last evening we had this dish hot with baked codfish and a side of steamed green beans. Tonight, we went vegetarian with a casserole of potatoes gratin, more green beans and this dish cold from the fridge. Awesome both times!
The key is being savvy on how to chew each bite. There are whole coriander seeds and peppercorns that are softened when the bulgur is boiled/steamed. They get soft, but they still surprise you when you chew into them, especially since there are soft currants that are about the same size as the spice seeds. Chew sideways ... there are these little explosions of spicy flavour when you bust one of the seeds on your tongue ... so good! Sweet, peppery, green and spicy, soft and slippery, and there's that soft chew of the bulgur.
It's the perfect side ... but I already said that. Yup, Yotam. You made me love bulgur. Congrats!
Itamar’s Bulgur Pilaf
a reduced recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion, halved lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
1 large sweet red pepper, seeded, deveined and sliced into thin 2 inch slices
A generous tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. peppercorns (pink are best, but I used black)
1 tbsp. coriander seeds
⅓ c. currants
a generous ½ c medium grind bulgur
1 c. water (or vegetable broth)
Kosher salt and black pepper
A generous handful of chopped chives
Making the Dish:
- Heat a deep heavy sauce pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil.
- Add the prepped onions and peppers and stir to combine. Sweat the vegetables until they are softened and glistening – 10 minutes or so.
- Add the tomato paste, the coriander and peppercorn seeds, sugar, and currants. Stir and cook for two minutes.
- Add the bulgur and stir to toss with the other ingredients. Add the water (or broth).
- Bring the mix to a boil, stir it, cover it, turn off the heat and let the mix steam to a finish - at least 20 minutes.
- When ready to serve, fluff the mix with a fork and if it seems to dry, drizzle a bit of olive oil over top and toss a bit. Correct the salt and pepper and serve.