Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

I've been watching Masterchef recently. Apart from being great 'roll your eyes at the telly TV' (for the ludicrous amateur dramatics of judges John Torode and Greg Wallace as they make 'tough' decisions, cast their judgmental eyes over the contestants' work and raise eyebrows in a serious manner) there's also been some pretty good cooking. One of the contestants in particular - Emily - made some dishes that were genuinely surprising and really exciting.

Which has been making me and my meals feel disappointingly pedestrian. 'Why can't I think up crazy rabbit, langoustine and pear dishes, or work out how to make beetroot into tagliatelle?!', I fret. When I am planning dinner in my head, it's different variations on old combinations that I work with, bits of this, bits of that. Like a comfortable old wardrobe where everything matches. A bit like my wardrobe, come to think of it. My 'innovative' combinations, both sartorial and culinary, are rarely successes...

Still, we can not all creative culinary geniuses be, and sometimes it's better to stick with the pieces you know...

Which is bringing me around to this dish above. The bulghur wheat from my Fabulous Crunchy Salad is making a come back; roasted aubergines and crispy onions I loved recently in a dahl recipe from the Hungry Tiger; the pinenuts and sultanas something I've come across in the Moro books I've been flicking through recently.

It's good - a kind of rich, fruity and yet wholesome-tasting comfort dish.

I served it with a yoghurt slaw - finely shredded green veg (white cabbage, cucumber, green pepper and green chillies) with lemon juice, salt, pepper and natural yogurt.

Jewelled Bulghur Wheat
(serves 2)

  • Chop half an aubergine, half a courgette and half a red pepper into about 1 cm square dice, and toss in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on a baking tray and bake in a hot oven for about 30 minutes until crispy and soft in the middle.

  • Meanwhile, bring to the boil and simmer 1/2 cup bulghur wheat (the coarse type) in 1 cup of water for about 15 minutes until soft and fluffy (or follow instructions on the packet) and set aside to cool.

  • Mix a handful of golden sultanas in whilst cooking so they can plump up nicely.

  • Toast a handful of pinenuts in a dry pan over a medium heat, shaking the pan regularly until they are just browned. Set aside

  • Chop a small bunch of fresh mint.

  • Finally, fry some very thinly sliced onion in hot oil, moving continuously until crispy and brown. Put on a piece of kitchen towel to drain off some of the oil.

  • Mix the roasted veg and mint through the wheat, serve in bowls or plates, and top with pine nuts and crispy onions

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