Monday, October 17, 2016

Tomato Bulgur Pilaf with Eggplant Salad and Carrots Casablanca


TOMATO-BULGUR PILAF

Either as a side or main dish, this moist, tangy pilaf steals the show. For an entree, stir in 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or black-eyed peas before serving.

To begin: heat 1 T. olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-low heat. Add one small onion (diced), 2 cloves of garlic (minced) and 1 large cinnamon stick (broken in at least three pieces). Stir fry until the onion darkens a shade or two. Add a little more oil if the onions or garlic begin to burn.

Stir in 1 t. smoked paprika, 1/4 - 1/2 t. cayenne pepper and 2 heaping T. tomato paste. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly, before adding 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, 1 cup chopped tomatoes and 1 cup coarse-ground bulgur. (Wherever you purchase your bulgur it will be designated as coarse, medium or fine.)

Bring everything to a boil and sprinkle in 1/2 t. salt and plenty of black pepper to taste. 1/2 t. turmeric added to the pot is entirely optional but lends the pilaf a lovely orange tint and add increased nutritional value. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and cook for around 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and let rest, still covered, for 5-10 minutes. Fluff the pilaf with a fork and then stir in a handful each of roughly chopped mint and parsley leaves. The bulgur should be soft but still retain a bit of chewiness. Season with more salt and pepper as desired before serving warm. When this pilaf is the focal part of a meal at Cafe Drake HRV, such as a light luncheon, we present the pilaf heaped on plates and surrounded with condiments - lemon wedges, slivered onions and a variety of pickles.





CARROTS CASABLANCA

Peel and cut into 2" pieces 1 lb. of carrots. If the carrots are thick, slice horizontally as well to create batons. Place the carrots in a skillet along with 1 T. olive oil, 1 t. agave nectar or maple syrup or honey, 1/4 t. salt and 2/3 cup water. Cover the skillet and cook the carrots over high heat until the water is mostly absorbed and the carrots have a glossy, glazed look. This should take about 10 minutes or just less.

Stir in 1/3 - 1/2 cup pitted and torn oil-cured black olives. Cook for one more minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped chives. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

At Cafe Drake HRV we sometimes follow the same recipe but swap out the carrots for beets. If making this version, the peeled beets should be cut into julienne slices, very thin. Increase the water to 1 cup and adjust salt and sugar according to personal tastes. Beets Casablanca truly sing when garnished with minced tarragon leaves.





MOROCCAN EGGPLANT SALAD

In a large mixing bowl combine well 1 small preserved lemon (sold in brine, jarred), 1 T. lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic (very finely minced or pressed), red chili flakes to taste and 2 T. sultanas or dried currants. Set aside while you slice 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 lbs.) into rounds, no thicker than 1/2".

Transfer the eggplant slices to a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones if needed) and toss lightly with olive oil. Roast in a single layer in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for about 15 minutes. Flip the slices after about 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. The eggplant is done when very soft in the middle.

Add roasted eggplant to the mixing bowl and stir gently to combine with other ingredients. This is best done with your clean hands to avoid breaking up the eggplant too much. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve either at room temperature or slightly chilled, on its own or atop lettuce leaves.


A hardy, vegetable-based dinner at Cafe Drake HRV - Tomato Bulgur Pilaf, Chickpea Flatbreads, Stewed Fava Beans, Eggplant Salad and Carrots Casablanca.

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