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bulgur and black bean salad

bulgur and black bean saladSummer always means a change in cooking gears.  The oven gets used less, our barbeque more, and food prep becomes simple.  Spending as much time outdoors is key and my energy is focused on leaving kitchen time down to a minimum.  I think we eat better during the summer with fresh, local produce available at markets and grocery stores.  Salads are a favorite and I never seem to make the same one twice.  It’s either missing one veggie or something else is added.  Continue Reading →

Bulgur Salad with Nasturtium Flowers

Bulgur Salad with Nasturtium Flowers by The Culinary ChaseI love shopping at our local farmers’ markets and we are lucky to have 3!  Because the one at Alderney Landing is closer, we tend to frequent this one more often.  When I want fresh herbs or lettuce, I buy from Riverview Herbs.  Their produce is so fresh it looks as though it was harvested that morning.  Last Saturday I spotted nasturtium flowers and grabbed a bag.  They looked gorgeous and immediately I knew what I was going to do with them.  A few weeks ago I was rearranging the contents in the pantry and found that I somehow accumulated 3 bags of bulgur!  Things in the pantry tend to get pushed around ending up on the bottom of the shelf or at the back of the wall.  We enjoy adding bulgur to a salad so why not make one that’s inclusive of pretty Spring-like flowers?  This bulgur salad is easy enough to make and it looks so festive.  Cooking and garnishing with flowers is nothing new.  Many cultures use flowers in their traditional cooking – stuffed or fried squash blossoms in Italian food, rose petals in Indian food, popular in salads in the Victorian era, and let’s not forget capers (unripened flower buds) that have been used as a condiment in Europe for over 2,000 years.  Not sure what flowers are edible?  Visit About.com to view their edible flower chart.

Serve 4 to 6
1 cup bulgur
small can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (more if you like)
1 1/2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup nasturtium petals
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin

nasturtiums by The Culinary Chase

  1. In a small bowl add bulgur and add enough boiling water to cover.  Place a lid on and let it sit until the water is absorbed and bulgur is soft.
  2. In a large bowl mix parsley, mint, cucumbers, tomatoes, chick peas, green onions, feta and nasturtiums. Stir in the softened bulgar and set aside.
  3. To make the dressing, whisk lemon juice, olive oil and cumin in a small bowl. Pour over salad and lightly toss to combine.

nasturtium flowers by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: This salad is hearty enough on its own or can be used as side or at a pot luck dinner.  When choosing flowers to eat, buy organic or at least a source you trust to ensure they are free of pesticide residue.  Nasturtium flowers will keep up to one week in a sealed glass jar in the fridge.  Enjoy!

Braised Lamb with Roast Carrot and Mixed Grains

braised lamb with roast carrot & mixed grains by The Culinary ChaseLamb is traditionally associated with the end of winter and so as a sign that Spring is almost here, I present to you Spring-in-a-Dish!   Braised anything in my family is very well-received and I knew this one was going to be a winner.  I made this last week and enjoyed it so much I made it again.  Typically braised lamb is serve with root vegetables but I like this recipe for its inclusion of clean eating foods – bulgur, barley and quinoa.  They top the charts in nutritional health benefits and should be incorporated in our diet.

Serves 4
adapted from Gourmet Traveller

extra-virgin olive oil
500g boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
300ml beer
6 sage leaves
1 star anise

Roasted carrots and mixed grains –
2 bunches carrots, scrubbed and cut lengthways in half
5 thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, crushed
splash of fresh lemon juice
splash of extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup each coarse bulgur, barley, red quinoa
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
fried sage leaves, topping (optional)

braised lamb by The Culinary Chase

  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add lamb and cook until browned (3 to 4 minutes).  Remove meat from pot and set aside. Heat another 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pot, add onion and garlic and stir occasionally until tender (8 to 10 minutes).  Return lamb to pot and add beer, sage and star anise, bring to a boil.   Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender (3 to 3½ hours; top up with extra beer if necessary).
  • Preheat oven to 350f (180c).   Prepare carrots by combining thyme, garlic and a splash of lemon juice and olive oil in a roasting tray.  Season and roast until golden and cooked through (35-40 minutes). Set aside. While carrots are roasting, combine bulgur and enough boiling water in a bowl to just cover and set aside until tender and fluffy (covered 20-30 minutes). Rinse barley and quinoa separately under cold running water, drain.  Cook in separate saucepans of boiling water until tender (15 to 20 minutes for barley; 10 to 15 minutes for quinoa). Drain well.  Combine all grains in a large bowl with parsley, lemon juice and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. To serve, add mixed grains topped with braised lamb, fried sage leaves and carrots to one side.

roasted carrots by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note: Go for a lighter beer (pale lager) to compliment the gamey flavor of the lamb.  I cooked the barley and quinoa in the same pot cooking the barley first for 5 minutes then adding the quinoa…I dislike using more pots than necessary.  The juice from roasted lemons taste better and tend to become somewhat sweeter when roasted. Cut a whole lemon into quarters and add to the pan of carrots.  Squeeze this juice over the cooked grains.  Enjoy!

Bulgur Salad with Cannellini Beans, Feta & Mint

Whenever I feel as though we’ve eaten too much red meat, we take a break and consume loads of veggies and ancient grains such as bulgur.  It’s this sort of balance that keeps us healthy…I can’t recall the last time I had a cold or the flu.  Bulgur is made from precooked wheat berries.  It’s a perfect substitute for rice as it has more fiber and is low on the glycemic food index.  We enjoy this ancient grain and especially like its chewy, mild nutty flavor.  I’m sure you’ve eaten it before in dishes such as tabbouleh and pilafs.  Because it’s low in fat and calories, it’s a perfect way to feel satiated without adding pounds.  Bulgur is already partially cooked and therefore needs little time for preparation –  perfect for a quick meal without jeopardizing nutrition.

Serves 4 to 6
adapted from BHG

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup bulgur
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 cups shredded purchased roasted chicken
1-15 ounce can cannellini beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped yellow and red sweet pepper
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan bring water to boiling. Add bulgur and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Return to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes or until water is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a small saucepan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add garlic and reduce heat to medium high. Cook and stir until garlic starts to turn golden around the edges. Remove from heat. Stir garlic and oil into bulgur mixture.

For the dressing, in a screw-top jar combine red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, lime zest, and lime juice. Cover and shake well. Stir dressing into bulgur mixture. Add chicken, cannellini beans, sweet pepper, feta cheese, cumin, 3/4 cup of the parsley, and 3/4 cup of the mint to bulgur mixture; toss to mix well.  Season and top with remaining parsley and mint.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This is such a hearty salad and loaded with nutritional goodness! You can substitute the bulgur for cooked brown rice or quinoa.  Enjoy!