The best part of my sorta-vacation in Florida this past week was spending a lot – and I mean A LOT – of quality time with my family. Luckily it also included a few mini sessions in an unequipped kitchen with my sister.
And when I say this kitchen had nothing, I pretty much mean it. Okay, sure it had a hand mixer, a mini cutting board, paring knife and a few bowls and pots and pans. But there were no ingredients outside a small shaker of salt. And this time I really mean none. No vegetable oil, olive oil, pepper, flour, baking soda, sugar… you name it, the kitchen didn’t have it.
The impetus for my sister wanting to learn a few things came from our flight to Florida where I prepared small containers of quinoa with roasted broccoli (an adaptation of roasted broccoli couscous) for a travel snack. Not only did we save a lot of money in airport food, but it was also tastier and healthier than anything we could have found at O’Hare.
So, while I was thrilled my sister wanted to learn how to make a few healthy side-dishes using ingredients like quinoa and bulgur, we literally had to start from scratch. In designing the recipes I focused on produce and basic ingredients that had long shelf lives and were relatively inexpensive. After all, this was just a lesson to show her how these nutritious grains worked so that when she returned home she would feel comfortable using them in the same versatile ways she uses pasta.
This recipe for bulgur with spinach and apricots was very simple, using just one pot and minimal chopping. Plus, it was filling and nutritious, essentially an ideal side-dish for a busy professional like my sister who is trying to stock her refrigerator with healthy foods for herself and her husband.
The bulgur is hearty and nutty, the spinach slightly bitter which is offset by the sweetness of the dried apricots and squeeze of lemon juice. Finally, the whole dish is topped with a smattering of toasted pecans for added flavor and crunch making a wonderful one-pot dish.
I packed a small container of the bulgur for the plane ride home. No more airport food for me!
Here’s the recipe:
Bulgur with Spinach & Apricots
1 cup dried bulgur wheat
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Combine the bulgur, water, salt and olive oil in a small pot set over high heat. Bring the water just to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and cover. Simmer covered for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Remove the lid and turn off the heat.
Stir the baby spinach into the bulgur in two batches. The residual heat of the bulgur will wilt the spinach leaves. Mix in the dried apricots and mint and adjust seasonings to taste (add more mint or salt as needed). Spoon the bulgur onto a serving plate and scatter the pecans over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.