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bulghur wheat

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

My friend runs a farm just on the edge of the city, and its first harvestable produce is beginning to take flight — into my hands. And my kitchen. And my bowl. And on my blog. Spring is here — as if I hadn’t told you a million times already — and this makes me happy. My kitchen too.

Now please excuse me while I take this next moment to praise the earth for baby bok choy.

Praise earth. Baby bok choy. Coming to a farmer’s market near you soon (or so I hope).

Baby Bok Choy

Its leafy greens are my first taste of the ground this year. (And I mean that quite literally – make sure to wash your bok choy extra well if you don’t want to swallow some dirt.) As tender as ever, early young greens are the best.

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

This past week, I took a trip out to the farm after work to help toil some soil and sow a few seeds/starters into the ground. Radicchio was farm-boy’s starter of choice for the night, so into the ground we put plant after plant after radicchio plant.

Each one was so small sometimes I began feeling like a nervous mom, wondering how they’d all survive a night without me. I’ve planted my fare share of infants though, so fortunately I walked away with confidence knowing they’d take root. And that has nothing to do with my gardening skills – plants are tough little guys! I’m excited to watch the baby radicchio leaves, with their ever so faint pink streaks, grow into the mighty magenta that makes spring salads shine.

Toasted sesame seeds

It always feels good to get my hands and jeans dirty, even if for just a couple of hours. City living or not, I’ll always be a farm girl at heart.

Perhaps with that comes an endless excitement for new harvests and crisp produce. I took this bok choy home with me from the farm and whipped it up the very same night. Simple dishes like these can be ever so satisfying when your produce is fresh. As any gardner, farmer, or farmer’s market enthusiast knows, spring is the golden season of all good things to come. The freshness just keeps trickling in until you have a steady stream of items to swap in and out of your diet. Just wait. Once strawberries arrive, I’ll be taking more than a small moment at the front of my blog to praise the earth for its fruit. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Baby Bok Choy and Mushroom Stir-Fry

Be on the lookout for baby greens. If you can’t find bok choy, opt for something else that’s on the slightly bitter side, which will pair nicely with the Hoisin sauce in this recipe. This will serve 4 as a light meal, but to pump it up, feel free to crack an egg on top.

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Black Bean Chili Atop Bulgur Wheat

Beans and grains. Always a go-to combo. in my kitchen. I almost always have a can of beans in the pantry, ready to be paired with some onions, peppers, and/or mushrooms hanging out in the fridge. And on any given day, you’re bound to find enough grains stashed in my place to feed an army. Who knows when the next round of hungry troopers are going to show up at my front door. Thank god for the bulk section in the grocery store, right?

When I first began dabbling with cooking, I’d make black beans and rice at least once a week. It’s a sturdy meal, filled with all the right nutrients and heartiness that an active girl like me needs. While not on my weekly menu anymore, I still cook up black beans quite a bit. In the following recipe, I created a saucy, spicy dish packed with flavor and perfect for topping a no-fuss, lightly seasoned portion of bulgur wheat.

Black Bean Chili Atop Bulgur Wheat

-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 green pepper, diced
-1 1/2 jalapeno, minced
-8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
-1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, diced
-2-15 oz. cans of black beans, one drained, one undrained
-1 Tbsp. chili powder
-2 tsp. coriander
-1 tsp. smoked paprika
-1 tsp. sugar
-1/4 cup tomato paste
-1/4 cup parsley, loosely packed, chopped (Feel free to go with the traditional cilantro, but I wanted to switch it up a bit and use some parsley I saved from the garden..added a nice hint of freshness)
-3 cups bulgur wheat
-Sour cream, optional
-Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion, garlic, and pepper for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and jalepeno, sauteing until mushrooms are tender, 6-8 minutes. Stir in chili powder, coriander, paprika, tomato paste, sugar, and salt, to taste. Add black beans plus cooking liquid of one can and parsley. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve atop bulgur wheat drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Top with sour cream, if desired.

Bulgur Stuffed Peppers

With a few last bell peppers still camping out in the summer garden, I snagged them all up this past weekend before they went to the ground. Initially planning on throwing them in with some other veggies and doing a veggie roast, I decided instead to do something more creative:  Stuffed peppers.

I packed the peppers with iron-rich bulgur wheat, threw in a few herbs and a fresh chili for a kick of heat, and then ended up adding some soy crumbles at the last minute for a boost of protein.  If you’re not a fan of soy protein, try tossing in beans, chopped nuts, or a combination of the two instead.

Carrying with it both a lightness of summer and a heartiness suited for fall, this was the perfect meal to end a slightly cool, late October day.  Feel free to top the peppers with cheese (such as parmesan or feta) for an extra element of flavor, or keep it vegan like I often prefer to do.

Vegan Bulgur Stuffed Peppers

  • -3 large bell peppers, or 4 small/medium-sized peppers
  • -1 small onion, chopped
  • -3 cloves garlic, minced
  • -1 chili pepper, minced
  • -1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • -1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with juice
  • -1 cup Morning Star Soy Crumbles (or an equivalent soy-based crumble)
  • -1 Tbsp. dried basil
  • -1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for topping
  • -1 cup reserved pepper water
  • -1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • -Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:  Bring large pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, slice top off of peppers, and discard seeds and membranes.  Chop excess pepper remaining around tops, and set aside.  Submerge peppers in boiling water and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove and set aside, saving 1 cup of water used for boiling peppers.

Preheat oven 350F.  Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, and chili pepper 6-8 minutes, until tender.  Add basil and bulgur, salt and pepper, to taste, and cook an additional minute.  Stir in tomatoes and one cup of pepper water.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add soy crumbles, and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Stir in parsley and remove from heat.  Adjust salt and pepper, to taste.

Place peppers in a lightly greased baking dish.  Use a spoon to stuff peppers with bulgur mixture.  Lightly drizzle olive oil over top.  Cover with aluminum foil, and place in oven.  Bake 30 minutes, or until fork tender.  Remove cover and bake an additional 5 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Let sit for at least 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve.

Bulghur Lentil Pilaf with Tahini-Herb Sauce

This was a recipe I actually got from the Food Network Kitchen.  I was quite impressed with the results.  The moderately mild flavors of the lentils and bulghur pair perfectly with the creamy, herbiness of the tahini sauce.  The pilaf requires a few steps and a handful of ingredients, but it’s really rather easy to make and is worth your time.

Bulghur Lentil Pilaf with Tahini-Herb Sauce

-4 cups water
-1 cup lentils
-2 large onions, diced
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil  (I reduced this to about 3 Tbsp.)
-1 cup bulghur, medium grind
-1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper

-2 cups grape tomatoes, halved  (I felt that one cup sufficed)
-1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, mint, or dill, or combo.

Tahini-Herb Sauce
-1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley
-1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
-1/4 cup water
-1/4 cup tahini
-2 tsp. honey
-1 garlic clove, smashed
-1 tsp. kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper

For the pilaf:  In a medium saucepan, bring the water and lentils to a boil.  Adjust heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, fry the onions in olive oil over medium heat until well browned, about 12 minutes.  (If onions begin to stick, add a few Tbsp. of water).  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  To the pan with the lentils, add the onions, bulghur, and 1 1/2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a full simmer, cover, and cook 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for an additional 15 minutes.

While the mixture is standing, make the tahini-herb sauce by pureeing all ingredients in a blender of food processor.  (I found that a  food processor worked best).

Transfer pilaf to a serving dish and top with tomatoes and herbs.  Serve with drizzled tahini-herb sauce over top.