Back to Cooking – Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Yogurt Sauce
I have been somewhat slightly obsessed with Yatam Ottolengi’s recipes since I first saw his cookbook “Ottolenghi” at Borders bookstore about a year ago. While I have been trying to hold back on buying too many cookbooks, I knew I would have to take this one home, and the reason was simple, I had never seen anything quite like it. There was no particular “cuisine” or ethnic slant to the recipe, this was not a book about making pasta, or baking bread, and there was no specific diet in mind and yet there was a clear point of view that shone out through each and every recipe.
Since that first encounter I have been following Yatam on the web (i.e. flipping through his webpage and restaurant menus and drooling) but more than anything I have been anxiously awaiting the US debut of his new book “Plenty.” Plenty is a compilation of recipe’s from Ottolenghi’s column in London’s “Guardian” Newspaper called “The New Vegetarian.” While Yatam is not, himself, a vegetarian, the dishes featured in the column are and they represent a bright and multifaceted take on vegetarian cuisine that both vegetarians and their more omnivorous counterparts can appreciate and enjoy.
This book had also helped to inspire me to cook more vegetarian friendly foods. As this column is about the wonderful cornucopia of nature’s bounty, it would make sense that many of the recipes featured herein are vegetarian in nature. And I will do my best to feature at least 2 Vegetarian and one Vegan recipe each month. This one, in particular, is one of my new favorites. Ottolenghi originally wrote it to feature Freekeh, but as I had bulgur on hand I opted to use the variation offered in the recipe for bulgur wheat and it turned out wonderfully. Don’t be afraid of the quantity of herbs in this recipe, I was a bit trepidations at first but the volume of herbs really brings big flavor to the table. The yogurt sauce is likely my favorite part of the dish. Its pungent garlic and creamy flavor add new dimension to the slightly-sweet and definitively-herbaceous pilaf.
Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Yogurt Sauce
Ras El Hanout is a middle eastern spice that can be found at gourmet cooking stores (like Williams Sonoma where I bought mine) and specialty spice shops. If you cannot find it substitute 1/4 TSP Cumin and 1/4 TSP Cinnamon.
2 Medium Onions Thinly Sliced
2 TBSP Butter
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 1/4 Cup Bulgur Wheat
1/2 TSP Ras El Hanout
3 Cups Vegetable Stock Reduced to 1 1/2 Cups
1/2 Cup Full Fat Yogurt
1 Clove Minced Garlic (TJs Frozen Garlic Works Fine)
1 1/2 TSP Lemon Juice
1/8 Cup Finely Chopped Parsley
1/8 Cup Finely Chopped Mint
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Cilantro
Heat a large sauce pan (with a good fitting lid) over medium heat. Add butter and, once melted, onions, to the pan and sautee for 15-20 minutes or until the onions are very soft and beginning to brown.
While the onions are cooking place the bulgur wheat in bowl and cover with cool water, allow to soak for 5 minutes and drain well.
Once the onions have browned, add bulgur, spices, and stock and bring to a boil. Immediately cover, reduce to low and simmer or 5 minute.
While the pilaf cooks, mix together yogurt, garlic and lemon juice, along with some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
When the pilaf has finished cooking remove from the heat and allow it to stand with the lid on for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and let stand for another 5 minutes to cool a bit. Stir in the herbs and serve topped with the yogurt sauce. This dish also tastes great with a light sprinkling of aleppo pepper.