Thursday, 24 April 2014

Intentional International

Bulgur Piccante con Pomodoro & Insalata di Cetriolo
Spicy Tomato-Bulgur with Cucumber Salad

I love ethnic food- I love Indian, I love Asian, I love Oriental and of course I love Mediterranean... but of course what I love most of all... is doing my own thing and borrowing from each and every one of those culinary backgrounds... to me that is what makes the most fun in the kitchen!

This evening, as is so often the case, with a long working day behind me and little energy left to be spending on anything too labor-intensive in the kitchen, I opted to make something quick and easy but satisfying and just plain old delicious... 4 of my favorite things!

Bulgur is one of those great, "life-saving" ingredients, like couscous, pasta, potatoes or rice, that take only a little time to prepare, but are the most ingredient in many, many meals... it all depends on the way we use them and how we flavor them to make all of the real difference--

This evenings dinner was a combination if 2 cups of bulgur, 1 small cucumber, 1 cup of yogurt, about a dozen cherry tomatoes and plenty of basil, parsley, dill and chives and a teaspoon each of turmeric and tandoori powder...

And as usual, the main prep-work involved was plenty of chopping! All of those herbs as finely as possible and the cherry tomatoes too- lots of color and flavor going on right there- with plenty more to come besides!

To prepare the bulgur, I put the 2 cups of bulgur into a saucepan with 2 tablespoons each of finely chopped chives and basil, 2 teaspoons of tomato paste, and a teaspoon each of turmeric and tandoori paste. I poured enough boiling water over the ingredients to cover them by around 1" and then turned on the heat to full power, stirred everything through thoroughly until the water came up to the boil and seasoned well with salt and pepper. 

I kept stirring for a minute or so once the water was boiling, then added a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of sugar and a little squeeze of lemon and set the bulgur to one side to swell and soak up all of the water and juices from the tomatoes...

The cucumber salad was a traditional affair, made by peeling, halving and hollowing out the cucumber using a spoon, then slicing it and sprinkling it lightly with salt and letting it stand for 5-10 minutes or so whilst I chopped up the herbs and stirred together the dressing...

...and the dressing was made of 2 tablespoons of yogurt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, a pinch salt and white pepper, a half-teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon each of finely chopped parsley and dill.

I stirred all of these ingredients together well and then poured the dressing over the cucumber slices, stirred it through and let is sit and infuse for at least 10-15 minutes whilst I got busy forming the bulgur into decorative little "nuggets".

By the time the bulgur was nice and cool, it had also soaked up all of the liquids, either the water or the tomatoes, as was a moist but firm mass, ready to be served whichever way you please.

It would have been fine just as it was, but I decided to take a couple of tablespoons and shape it into individual little servings, scraping a spoonful from one spoon to the other and back again and gently pressing it into shape whilst doing so. I guess it is a case of trial and error when making these- but it is a lot easier than it might seem at first...

For the sake of my photo I decided to serve these up together, but basically, what we have here are 2 nice side-dishes for and Summer grill party, if you so will... and I'm sure that you will!

The turmeric and tandoori spice give the tomato paste and finely chopped cherry tomatoes a whole new spicy contrast and one that goes wonderfully with the mild and "creamy" cucumber salad.

This is perfect Summer food- plain and easy to make, fun and exciting to eat and so convenient to prepare beforehand and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it... and the best part is, if either of these 2 delicious dishes has the opportunity to spend a couple of hours resting in a fridge somewhere, it will wake-up fresh and vibrant and delicious come suppertime!

Serve with an extra sprinkle of fresh herbs, a nice drizzle of extra yogurt and a dusting of tandoori spice to make it extra beautiful and delicious- because if you make your food a feast for the eyes too, you're going to enjoy it a whole lot more!

And your guests will too!


No comments:

Post a Comment