Friday, February 27, 2009

Spicy Greens with Bulgur

Although the recipe has already been published on my blog, I remember how many of you enjoyed it at our previous Summer get-together and thought you might like to have the recipe.

Originally, the recipe calls for a variety of greens called khoubiz or bakool , which is found growing wild in the fields of North Africa. It tastes like a cross between arugula (rocket leaves) and watercress, with a hint of acidity, and there is no real equivalent for it here in the US. After experimenting, with fair results, with spinach, arugula, Tuscan kale, dandelion, I've had the best luck with the combination of spinach and arugula. It may not be much to look at, but when you have cumin, turmeric and red pepper flakes mingling with bulgur and spinach and arugula, the fusion is irresistible. Even for those who pretend detesting spinach, or any greens for that matter. (I have a friend who wouldn't eat anything with a green color and he absolutely loves this dish)

The spices and the cloves of garlic are pounded using a mortar and pestle to extract as much aroma before adding the resulting paste to the "sweaty" onions. As you pour the stock over the lovely ochre colored onions, restrain yourself from dipping your bread, or your fingers, as it is getting ready for the bulgur. At the end, steamed spinach and arugula join the party; a party that took half an hour to put together and will take half the time to gulp down. It's exquisite. I assure you. It's still fine the following day straight from the fridge, sitting on the countertop with a piece of bread in one hand and orange soda in the other. Every bite brings with it a part of home and my mother's kitchen into my own kitchen.

Happy weekend, my friends!

My mother's Spicy Greens with Bulgur (Tchicha bel Khoubiz)

Recipe: Serves 4
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tsp cumin, freshly ground
- 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
-1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp fine bulgur
- 1 spinach bunch
- 1 arugula bunch
- 1 tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- Salt, Black Pepper

Wash the spinach and arugula. Drain off the excess water and put them in the basket section of a steamer. Cover and steam over simmering water until the greens just start to wilt, but still have their vibrant green color, about 5 - 7 minutes. When cold to handle, squeeze the water out of the greens and chop roughly. Set aside.

In a pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook on a medium heat until translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, pound the garlic with turmeric, cumin, and pepper flakes to a paste using a mortar and pestle. Add the garlic paste to the onions and stir to incorporate. Add The tomato paste and the stock and bring to a boil. Add the bulgur and stir again. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook covered until the bulgur is tender, about 15 minutes, depending on the variety of your bulgur.

Uncover the pan and add the steamed greens and the herbs to the sauce. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes and then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

The dish keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 days, although I never recall keeping it longer than one day.


GollyGumDrops said...

This looks great. I think I'll need to try it with spinach as I'm not sure what an equivalent for arugula would be.

Herrad said...

This sounds delicious, will get my darling to make it tomorrow.

Val n Marty said...

We really pared this down, made it with just frozen kale for the greens, and only 1 clove garlic. It was deeeeeeeelish!!! Really good, thank you so much for posting this.

Personally I am sure I"d love it with the different greens and the extra garlic, but my husband prefers more simple tastes. This was a good combination of simple enough for him, complex enough for me.

thanks again.