Sometimes when Monday rolls around, I think that maybe I can skip “Meatless Monday” or that I’ll make something using only a tiny amount of meat and then I feel guilty about that (because, after all, I did pledge to go meatless on Mondays on the Meatless Monday website). Bulgur with lentils is one of my go-to meals on days like that when I feel uninspired. This meal, however, is excellent, and is one that I often double so that there will be some leftover for lunch or another meal or both. This will be in my new cookbook, Helen’s Turkish Table, which will hopefully be finished this year. This recipe is a preview.
It may not sound all that exciting, but the combination is magical. It’s a Turkish dish, one that you might not find in restaurants, and maybe only in homes in eastern Turkey. Here’s how to make it.
1/2 cup green lentils
1 c. water
1 cup large grained bulgur
1 1/2 c. water or stock
2 T. unsalted butter
3 T. vegetable oil
1 T. tomato paste
1 large onion, cut in half and sliced vertically into thin slices
1-2 T. oil for frying onion
red pepper flakes
Place the lentils in the 1 cup water in a small pan. Bring to boil, then cut down to simmer and cook covered until lentils are tender and have absorbed most of the water. Be sure to watch carefully so that they don’t boil over or scorch. Add more water if necessary. Let cool.
When ready to make the pilav, in a medium saucepan melt the butter and add the oil until butter is melted and the oil and butter are sizzling. Add the bulgur and stir well and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and salt, then add about 2/3 c. of drained and cooked lentils. Stir in the water or stock, bring the whole mixture to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer on low for about 25 minutes. Remove from heat, place a paper towel or napkin between the lid and the pan and allow to rest in a warm place while you prepare the onions. Being careful to keep the pan away from any stray paper towel from the bulgur pan, heat the 1-2 T. oil in a small frying pan. When hot, add in the sliced onions and cook on medium high heat until onions are browned. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.
Makes about 4-5 servings. Top each serving of pilav with fried onions. Pass plain yogurt and red pepper flakes. Serve with a simple green salad.