BULGUR AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS

I’ve been on a bulgur kick lately. It is such a nice grain, cooks in less than 10 minutes and you can enjoy it warm or cold. In the version I share today, it showed up as salad, with a very simple lemony dressing with fresh mint from our own garden. Disclaimer: I take zero credit for any fruits, legumes or herbs grown in our backyard. The husband is the gardener in charge, and for that I am forever grateful. I am a certified mint-killer.

BULGUR AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 cup bulgur
1/2 tsp salt
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp paprika
2 Tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
fresh mint leaves
fresh pomegranate seeds
1/2 preserved lemon, cut in small pieces (optional)
salt and pepper for final seasoning

Cook the bulgur in a large volume of salted water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and rinse briefly with cold water. Reserve.

Place the drained chickpeas in a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle some paprika and microwave for 15 seconds or so. Let them cool briefly.  Add the chickpeas to the bulgur in a serving bowl. Add mint leaves to taste, drizzle olive oil and lemon juice, mix everything well. Finally add pieces of preserved lemons (if using) and pomegranate seeds. Adjust seasoning, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The little step of microwaving the chickpeas for just a few seconds with a touch of spice is absolutely worth it. I read about it a long time ago and now I just incorporate in every recipe that calls for canned chickpeas. It brightens up the flavor, and since it is such a short “cooking” time, it does not affect the texture. It exorcises  that “tinned” feel out of them.

I added preserved lemons because I made some from scratch back in April and this salad was a perfect opportunity to bring them to play. You can omit or add orange segments together with the pomegranate seeds. Leftovers keep quite well, in fact I think the salad was better at lunch next day. I added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a touch of additional salt. This will be in our regular rotation, I am sure.

ONE YEAR AGO: Purple Star Macarons

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MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD

I love carrots but have a problem with eating them raw, cannot quite wrap my mind around the harsh texture. In fact, when I see carrot sticks playing as crackers next to a nice bowl of hummus, I feel a bit sad. In this salad, raw carrots are grated and mellowed down by spending some time in a nice dressing with one of my favorite ingredients, pomegranate molasses.  It is absolutely delicious, and even a person with my anti-raw carrot approach will love it. Trust me.

MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD
(adapted from many sources)

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
Kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup dried dates, thinly sliced
1 pound carrots, peeled and shredded
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Prepare the dressing by mixing in a bowl the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, turmeric, paprika and salt.  Pour the olive oil whisking constantly. Add the chopped dates. Reserve while you process the carrots.

Shred the carrots in a food processor or grating by hand.  Add the carrots and olives to the dressing/dates mixture, and mix well. Leave it to stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Add the toasted almonds, sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top, adjust seasoning and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Cannot praise this simple salad enough. One of the things I love most about it is that it is still good next day. How many salads stand an overnight sleep in the fridge? Not that many. Well, maybe if you have more rabbit genes than me, you could find the texture next day a bit too soft, but I doubt it. Still delicious. Pomegranate molasses brings the right amount of sharpness and sweetness, it all goes together beautifully. And don’t skip the pomegranate seeds, they please the eyes and the palate!

Between writing this post and publishing it, I made this salad again. Second time around I used Ras-El-Hanout instead of turmeric, skipped the paprika, and added thinly sliced green apples instead of green olives. Another version, same deliciousness…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin Sourdough

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ROASTED CORN AND ZUCCHINI SALAD

You know that kind of recipe that shows up in one of your favorite food blogs and you just have to make it right away? This was it. I saw the picture, the list of ingredients, and fell in love with it. Plus, human beings who have braces on their upper and lower teeth live in a permanent state of craving corn on the cob. The type of pleasure that is far removed from their reality. This salad brings corn back into play. Still a bit hard to negotiate, but doable. Totally doable. Or I should say chewable… Sorry. Got carried away…

ROASTED CORN AND ZUCCHINI SALAD
(very slightly modified from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 ears roasted corn, cooled, and kernels cut off
2 zucchini, chopped into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Whisk the olive oil,  lime juice and zest together in a small bowl until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, add the corn, zucchini, jalapeño, and cilantro. Add the dressing and toss until combined. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to 12 hours.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You can grill the corn as Karen suggests, but also broil in the oven, which is what I ended up doing. Quick, easy, you just have to keep an eye to avoid burning the delicate kernels, in case you set up your rack too close to the broiler. I prefer to keep it about 6 inches below, which is a good compromise.  Simply rub the corn with a touch of olive oil, and set under the broiler, moving the cob to get all sides nicely charred. Once that is done, let them cool a bit and shave the kernels off to use in the salad.

My recipe was almost exactly like Karen’s, but I made half the amount, and reduced a little bit the proportion of olive oil in the dressing, making it slightly more lemony.  This was refreshing, light, delicious, it will be a regular dish in our rotation, as the husband already requested it for next week. He lives in fear that a dish he really likes might never show up at our table again. No risk with this one.  Raw zucchini, when cut in small dice and allowed to sit with the acidic dressing for a few hours, turns out perfect. I cannot recommend this recipe enough!

We enjoyed it with turkey burgers (my default recipe which we adore), sweet potato fries, and avocado slices.

Karen, thank you for being a constant source of inspiration in my cooking…

ONE YEAR AGO: Fraisier Cake, A Celebration of Spring

TWO YEARS AGO: Zucchini Frittata with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

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SIX YEARS AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets

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NINE YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere

 

 

LENTILS AND RADICCHIO? YES, PLEASE!

I bet many of my readers will consider clicking away from the blog right now, because… lentils? Not the most popular item in the pantry. Radicchio? Not the veggie that jumps into the grocery cart of most shoppers. Both together? Thanks, but no thanks. Can I ask you to trust me on this? Actually it’s not even me you should trust, but someone with a lot more gastronomic fame: Melissa Clark. And credit should actually go to my beloved husband who not only found the recipe but made it for our dinner. So basically I am  giving to charity from other people’s wallets. But hey, I am the resident blogger. So there!

LENTIL SOUP WITH RADICCHIO SLAW
(adapted from Melissa Clark)

for topping:
half a radicchio head, thinly sliced
drizzle of olive oil
lemon juice to taste
1 avocado, diced very small
salt and pepper to taste
for soup:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup green lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Make topping and reserve in fridge by mixing all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Make the soup: In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.  Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot.  

Stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup and add a generous amount of radicchio slaw on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This soup was excellent served with a mixed olive sourdough (recipe published not too long ago in the blog, click here if you’ve missed it). I find it a bit hard to decide if the topping made the soup or if it would shine as brightly on its own. A perfect combination. We had leftover radicchio slaw, and found ourselves munching on small amounts once our bowls of soup were appropriately empty. Next day we improvised a full salad with the other half of the radicchio head, adding a bunch of goodies we had in the fridge.

We mixed radicchio, tomatoes, olives, and avocados together. Dressing was kept simple again, olive oil and lemon juice, right before serving we added a tiny touch of white balsamic vinegar. OMG this was good. Later on we decided that capers would have been perfect, and of course some feta cheese or other sharp cheese of your choice.


Simple dinner… Red snapper, a little rice and this tasty salad… 

The secret with radicchio is to allow it to sit with the dressing for a little while, or warm it up very very briefly to soften the leaves. But that is another method that I intend to share in the near future. The great thing about this preparation is that leftovers keep very well in the fridge for 24 hours. My lunch next day was this salad with a fried egg, sunny side up. I was a happy camper.

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SIX YEARS AGO: Sourdough Bread with Walnuts and Dates

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AIR-FRIED TOMATOES WITH HAZELNUT PESTO AND HALLOUMI CHEESE

No, no need to run away, you can make this in your oven if you do not have one of Lolita‘s sisters in your kitchen. But I am constantly finding reasons to use our air-fryer, and in this recipe it performed way beyond my expectations. The halloumi cheese turned out exactly the way we like it, with zero risk of burning as it often happens on the grill or even on a non-stick pan. You might be surprised that I would still handle hazelnuts without going into a hysterical fit, but it so happens that I had quite a bit leftover from  my 8th blog-anniversary cake.  I definitely need to use them up before they go rancid.  Come to think of it, I see a macaron blog post on the horizon… (wink, wink).

AIR-FRIED TOMATOES WITH HAZELNUT PESTO AND HALLOUMI CHEESE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the hazelnut pesto:
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
squeeze of lemon juice
olive oil to desired consistency

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced (about 4 slices per tomato)
Halloumi cheese, cut into thin slices
basil (I used some from grocery store, processed in a little oil)
Spring mix greens
olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to dress salad

Make the pesto by mixing the cheese, hazelnuts, parsley, salt and pepper in t a food processor. Process until smooth, then drizzle olive oil slowly until you reach the consistency you like, probably a little less than 1/3 cup should do it.

Lay the tomatoes on a baking dish, season lightly with salt, place a couple of teaspoons of the pesto on top, then lay a slice of halloumi cheese over the pesto.  Dab with a small amount of basil in oil. You can also use fresh basil if you prefer. Transfer the slices to the basket of the air-fryer, making sure to spray the basket with a little oil. Spray the tomato slices very lightly with olive oil, and cook at 390F for 10 to 12 minutes, until the halloumi cheese gets golden brown.  Carefully remove the slices and serve them over  Top with onion slices. Sprinkle with basil, red pepper, and sea salt. Transfer the assembled bites to the Air Fryer cooking basket. Drizzle with a nonstick cooking spray and cook for approximately 13 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the spring mix on a large serving platter, dress with olive oil and lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper. When the tomatoes are ready, carefully place them on top of the greens.  Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These would work great by themselves as an appetizer, I suppose. Now, as you can see from the composite photo above, the air-fryer does not make a huge batch of food. I could have fitted maybe two more tomato slices inside, but that would be maximum capacity. The air-fryer is really perfect for a couple, or a couple with a young kid. Teenagers could present a challenge, they tend to eat impressive amounts of food, if I remember correctly… Better enjoy the advantages of a very high metabolic rate, right?  But coming back to these cute little babies, they were delicious indeed. I think the combination of any  type of pesto with tomato and cheese is a classic, but it’s nice to have a change of pace with the halloumi instead of mozzarella. Halloumi is so assertive, it has a grown-up feel. I love it. Wish it was a bit cheaper, though.

I’ve seen recipes that use the air-fryer to “fry” a bunch of tomatoes cut in half, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then blend them in a food processor and use as a basis for a chunky tomato sauce. Sounds pretty tasty to me, I intend to try that in the near future, but decided it was worth getting the thought out. If you try it, please let me know…

With this post, I give my first step into the 9th year of food blogging. Wow! Just wow!  Make sure to enter my giveaway in case  you missed the announcement in the previous post..

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Red Velvet Layered Cake

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FIVE YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

SIX YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

 

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