Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pink lentil and bulgur pilaf with zucchini

I first tried out this recipe when I was living in a co-op here in Berkeley (in my first semester of grad school). We always had lots of whole grains and beans on hand, and were also always trying to come up with recipes that were suitable for the vegetarian/vegan members of the co-op. This one, probably adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook (?) was so good I had to write it down. :)

The finished result isn't the most beautiful-looking thing in the world, but it is really satisfying and has a rich flavor, even though it's pretty darn healthy. To wit: I made it tonight and my husband asked me how much parmesan cheese I'd put into it! I think he was fooled by the creaminess of the dish; the lentils kinda fall apart while cooking and make it seem like there must be cream or cheese or dairy of some kind in there. The bulgur maintains enough of its grain to give it a nice texture. Cooking the "pilaf" in chicken (or veggie) broth also gives it extra body. The zucchini contributes a mild flavor, and some nice green color.

This dish goes really well with fish or lemon-pepper chicken (due to the lemon in it), but it has enough protein from the lentils to be eaten as a vegetarian main dish.

The recipe (and nutrition info!):
4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 c. bulgur
1 c. lentils
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. (several grinds) fresh black pepper
juice of 1 lemon (~1 Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large zucchini (or 1 each medium zucchini and yellow summer squash)
1 clove garlic, minced
zest of one lemon (~1 tsp.)
~1 Tbsp each parsley and cilantro

Combine all ingredients in first group (except lemon juice) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook ~35 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed, creating your "pilaf". Stir in lemon juice. NB: there's really no way to retrieve the bay leaf from the pilaf, so look out for it when serving!

While the pilaf is cooking, chop up garlic and zucchini. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add ingredients in second group (except parsley and cilantro) to the skillet with a pinch of kosher salt and saute 5 minutes. Stir sauteed zucchini into the cooked pilaf. Serve topped with parsley and cilantro.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Full nutrition info HERE (at

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