Friday, April 20, 2007

on the side

Sometimes, like tonight, I can't decide what I want for dinner, so I just make a bunch of side dishes instead. This might not be the most efficient way of cooking, but it sure tastes good. I love side dishes! Tonight I had hummous, tabouleh, and kisir (Turkish bulgur salad for dinner). Mmm. (But not photogenic!)

I didn't used to like tabouleh, but a few years ago some Egyptian friends visited my family and made us 'real' tabouleh. It was perfect-- a parsley salad with bursts of fresh tomato, bits of chopped spring onion, a little bulghur for texture, all bathed in a tangy lemon dressing. Such a change from the kind of bulgur that you can usually find here, which is a bulgur salad with a little parsley for color.
But I do like bulgur, which is why I made the kisir. It's better (and look more red) when you use pomagranate syrum (sometimes called molasses-make sure it is sour) instead of lemon juice, but I didn't have any.

1 cup fine bulgur (the kind of bulgur usually available at normal grocery stores is not fine. It's perfectly ok to use coarse bulgur, but you might have to adjust the soaking time or amount of water)
1 cup boiling water
3 tbsp ajvar (red pepper paste. You can buy it at whole foods, middle eastern stores, or if you're like me your mom makes it for you ;-) ) Use tomato paste if you don't have it.
1/2 cup chopped parsley, mint, and dill (use a mix of what you have/like)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic,chopped
oil for sauteeing
2 tbsp olive oil
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cucumber,chopped (I didn't add since it's not in season here)
2 scallions, chopped
juice of 2 lemons (or 2 tbsp of pomegranate syrup)
Salt, za'tar, cumin, and cayenne peper to taste

Pour the boiling water of the bulgur, cover, and let soak for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic until very soft and brown. Chop the vegetables and herbs. When the onion mixture is almost done, add 1 tbsp of the ajvar and cook for a minute. Put the cooked bulgur in a bowl and add the rest of the ajvar. Knead with your hands for a minute, until the bulgur is red. I hate touching food like that, but you really can't get it red enough with just a spoon. Add the onion mix, chopped herbs and vegetables, spices, pomegranate syrup, and olive oil and stir (with a spoon!). Enjoy!

1 comment:

bazu said...

I often have this type of dinner- I think I like sides more than entrees! This looks healthy and delicious. The tapas/smorgasboard/mezze philosophy of eating is just so right. Especially with a nice glass of sangria or something like that...