Lentils and Bulgur: One Pot of Comfort

Houseproud lentils and bulgur recipe IMG_3968Here’s an easy recipe for you: lentils and bulgur, cooked together in one pot, based on a dish that’s popular throughout the Middle East. It travels well and is still yummy days after it was made. It’s an earthy dish – hearty, filling, and cheap. It’s also a one-pot meal that needs minimal attention or prep work, which is useful if you, too, have decided to clean every FRACKING inch of your home and each item therein. No matter how unreasonable your plans or how troubled the world, this food comforts the wearied soul. 

Houseproud lentils and bulgur recipe IMG_3961My version of this dish uses bulgur, which is the Syrian style, instead of the white rice that’s used in other countries. You can treat this as a side dish, or as a light lunch or supper.

Ingredients (serves four as main or eight as side dish):
1 cup green lentils*
1 cup bulgur (medium or coarse, not extra-fine)
Water to cover by 2”
Glug of olive oil and pinches of sea salt
aromatics – green onions, parsley, cilantro, etc
sturdy veggies – celery, carrot, etc
garnishes – salted lemons, pickled turnips, caramelized onions

Rinse lentils and put into a tall saucepan, adding approx’ly 2” of water to cover. Add a glug of olive oil and pinch or two of sea salt, and stir well. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, covered. Add bulgur, stir, bring to a boil, then turn off heat, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes. Taste to confirm that the bulgur is fully hydrated; if not, cover and let sit until it is. Empty the lentils and bulgur into a strainer set over a bowl, and let drain for a few minutes. Most of the water will have been absorbed, but whatever hasn’t will be the YUMMIEST stuff you’ve ever slurped. Save it for later or better yet, drink it in the moment.

Serve the well-drained lentils and bulgur in their unadorned rustic glory, or gussy the dish up (see ideas above and below). It’s mighty good either way, and equally good warm or at room temp. My latest batch included thinly sliced green onion tops, a few big spoonfuls of mint-parsley-cilantro fermented herb paste, a cup of thinly sliced celery stalks and heart, two thinly sliced salted lemon quarters, and the juice of two lemons. I nommed a big bowl of it last Wednesday in the midst of my cleaning mania and immediately felt less frazzled.

And with that and the fervent hope that you are as unfrazzled as possible on this All Hallows Eve, very fondly etc, your little munakins.

*In their recipe for mjadara (brown lentils and bulgur) in one of my fav cookbooks, Azzam and Mousawi’s Our Syria: recipes from Home, brown lentils are used instead of the green lentils that I prefer. If you want the lentils to get a little mushy, use brown lentils; for firmer lentils, use green.

Houseproud lentils and bulgur recipe IMG_3962

We use this little bowl for kitchen scraps now. It’s not as practical as our old giant coffee can, but is much easier to clean. The bowl is frequently emptied into a small plastic compost bucket that lives on our back porch, which in turn is regularly dumped into the large compost bin that’s emptied weekly by the city. The bowl is rinsed after each dumping; the porch bin, every week; and the big bin every few months. It sounds more complicated than it is. The chicken bowl reminds me of our dear friend in MT, and makes me smile whenever I catch a glimpse of it.

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