Sunday, 29 March 2015

A Taste of Spring To Come.

Calamaro, Barba di Frate alla Menta & Limone su Bulgur Turco al Baharat
Cuttlefish with Lemon & Mint Monksbeard on Turkish Bulgur with Baharat


Exotic and complicated-sounding, but quick and easy to make- this evenings supper was the perfect, colorful ending to an otherwise drab first day of Spring.

With Mediterranean and Arabic influences, this is a light and tasty meal that is easy enough to make in a hurry on a weeknight, but also delicious enough to serve to guests.


One small saucepan, one folding steam rack and one frying pan... those were the utensils I needed to prepare all of these lovely ingredients. Read on and you will see how I cut a corner or two and saved quite a bit of time and effort- which made preparing this lovely meal into even more of a joy!


Obviously, I only prepared one portion, for me, myself, yours truly- but that makes it easy to scale things up if you are preparing for more people.

So, I needed 1 cuttlefish, 1 good cupful of Turkish bulgur (the kind with those fine, toasted, vermicelli noodles mixed-in), a good handful of monksbeard, 1 large Spring onion, a little fresh mint and parsley, 4-5 cherry tomatoes, 1 lime, salt, pepper and olive oil. And baharat of course! What a wonderful spice mix!


The result is tasty but very mildly spicy... and with the monksbeard being prepared with mint and lemon, the way my Sicilian market vendor Nina taught me to make it, it was refreshing and light and delicious! I may go as far as to say that this is the only way that I really enjoy monksbeard- haha! But hey! I am a clean-shaved guy... most of the time!  


I started off by putting my cupful of bulgur into a small saucepan, added half of the onion, a tablespoonful of baharat, seasoned with salt and pepper and covered it with 3 cupfuls of boiling water.


I then set my steam-rack into the saucepan, laid the cuttlefish on top, turned on the heat, put the lid on tightly and let them cook together for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, I removed the cuttlefish, put the lid back onto the saucepan and let the bulgur sit and finish cooking in the residual heat from the until I was ready to serve it. By that time it would have almost tripled in volume and be perfectly light and fluffy.


Using either a sharp knife, or some kitchen scissors, make cuts along each edge of the cuttlefish- these will let it get crisper and at the same time more tender when you fry it- and then into a very hot pan it goes, with a little olive oil. Press the cuttlefish firmly down so that it crisps up nicely and season with salt, pepper and lime juice.


Set the cuttlefish to one side and then pop the remaining half of the Spring onion, the monksbeard and a good pinch of chopped mint into the pan to take its place. Sautée for a minute or two and then add a splash of water and plenty more lime juice.

Stir together, push to one side, return the cuttlefish to the frying pan and put on a lid to keep them warm whilst you quickly finish the bulgur... and soon you will be ready to eat!


Before serving, add the cherry tomatoes and the parsley to the bulgur, along with a squeeze of lemon and dash of olive oil- and then you are finally ready to go!

A little extra chopped mint and a couple of slices of lime to squeeze are the perfect finishing touches- to make it look as great as it tastes- and taste as great as it looks!


The only thing that was lacking... was a little sunshine! But we will all have that soon enough! It's just nice to know what we can cook when it happens!


On the other hand... with a plate of food like this... who needs the sun?!?!

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