Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cabbage With Tomatoes, Bulgur and Chickpeas

There's no denying it's a glorious today when you find the ideal recipe for a classic meal. Perfect lasagna, the creamiest mac and cheese, the best beef stew - these all bring me great joy. But, being a constant culinary adventurer, finding a novel (to me) ingredient and/or spice combination might be the best of all.

Although I'm a fan of cabbage, it isn't a vegetable I buy all that often. But if you're trying to be a locavore during a Wisconsin winter, eventually you'll have to pick up a head. Okonomiyaki, made with green or red cabbage, is one of my favorite ways to dine on this crunchy crucifer, but that preparation does not lend itself to freezing leftovers for ready-made meals. Hunting for cabbage recipes led me to a lot of the usual suspects (sauteed, stuffed, etc.), but my desire to get out of my whole wheat pasta/brown rice/quinoa pattern happily lead me to this recipe. Cabbage and tomatoes are not two veggies I automatically think to pair, but they blend beautifully in this gently-cooked pot of heartiness. Perfectly seasoned with balanced smokiness, sweetness, acidity, and freshness, the veggies, bulgur and beans eagerly soak up all the flavor, but their unique textures keep the meal from becoming a homogeneous experience.

Surprisingly filling, this meal can be a vegetarian or vegan main dish, or a great companion to grilled chicken or fish. I'm anticipating the days where the days are long, warm, and sunny and I'll be eating fresh and light, but until Mother Nature releases her icy hold, I'll happily chow down on this warm, comforting meal.

Cabbage With Tomatoes, Bulgur and Chickpeas
adapted from The New York Times
serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 medium head green or red cabbage, finely shredded
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, cider vinegar or sherry vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 cups water
1 cup coarse bulgur
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy lidded skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onion, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about five minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt and the paprika. Cook, stirring, until the onion is thoroughly tender and infused with paprika, three to four minutes.

2. Add the cabbage, and cook, stirring, for three minutes or until it begins to wilt. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar, and add salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes until the cabbage is thoroughly tender.

3. Stir in the dill and the water, and bring a to a boil. Add the bulgur and chickpeas. Stir to combine. When the water comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer 10 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve hot or at room temperature.

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