Monday, March 9, 2009

Recipe: Diana's Spicy Greens with Bulgur and Tofu


I first tasted a recipe called Spicy Greens with Bulgur (Tchicha bel Khoubiz) last summer and was excited to see that the recipe was recently posted on the blog for the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers. My friend Warda (who blogs at 64sqftkitchen and brought this dish for us to try last summer) has used many types of greens for this recipe. However, the original recipe calls for a variety of greens called khoubiz or bakool, found growing wild in the fields of North Africa, that tastes like a cross between arugula (rocket leaves) and watercress with a hint of acidity. Warda says there is no real equivalent for those greens here in the US, so she likes using a combination of spinach and arugula, which is a Brassica green, thus I have included this recipe on my kale blog.

However, I had a big pile of young, tender, and beautiful beet greens to use that I bought at the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market last Saturday, which I certainly wanted to eat while they are still fresh and delicious. So I gave them a try in this recipe. Young beet greens do not add the same “bite” as the original recipe probably has, but the bright green leaves and deeply-colored red stems give the final recipe a gorgeous hue!

Why eat beet greens if they are not a Brassica vegetable, and so do not contain the health-promoting sulfur molecules unique to the greens like kale and its many relatives? Young, tender beet greens are both tasty and a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K (needed for healthy blood clotting and bone-building) along with the phytochemicals beta carotene (pre-vitamin A), lutein, and xeazanthin (all needed for healthy vision).

I made just a few adjustments to Warda’s original recipe.

First, I added some firm tofu to the mixture as a protein source to make it an easy and complete vegetarian (vegan) meal. I’ll bet that adding a small amount of cooked chicken to this dish would be tasty, too, and a tasty way to add a healthy amount of meat that complements a dish instead of being the main attraction. Any type of dried beans could have been added instead of tofu for another healthy, plant protein source, too.

Secondly, I used tomato-vegetable juice instead of broth and tomato paste.

Thus, with full credit to and inspiration from my friend Warda, I’ve changed the name from Warda’s mother's Spicy Greens with Bulgur to Diana’s Spicy Greens with Bulgur and Tofu.

Ingredients:
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tsp cumin, freshly ground
- 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- ½# extra-firm tofu, cut into small pieces ~ ½ inch cubes
- 3 cups tomato juice (low-sodium)
- 3 tbsp fine bulgur
- 1 bunch young, tender beet greens, including stems (roughly chop to equal ~4 cups)
- 1 tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- Salt, Black Pepper

Method:
Wash the beet greens. Drain or shake off the excess water and chop roughly, including the stems. Set aside.

(Photo: 4 cups of chopped fresh, young beet greens)

In a pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook on a medium heat until translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, if you have a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic with turmeric, cumin, and pepper flakes to a paste; if not, chop garlic very fine and mix with spices.
Add the garlic paste or mixture to the onions and stir to incorporate.
Add the tofu pieces, stir to coat with the spices, cook a few minutes until starting to brown on some sides.

(Photo: Onions, spices, and tofu being saute├ęd)

Add the tomato juice and bring to a boil.
Add the bulgur and beet greens. Stir again.
Lower the heat to a very gentle simmer and cook covered until the bulgur is tender, and beet greens are wilted but still very bright green, about 15 minutes, depending on the variety of your bulgur.

(Photo: Full recipe simmering with bulgur added)

Uncover the pan and add the fresh herbs to the sauce. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes and then remove from the heat.
Season with salt and pepper if desired. Taste sauce to determine if the “heat” is enough for your taste. If not, add some hot pepper spice of your choice for garnish and kick.

Serves 2 (generously, "cover the plate" servings) to 4 (as more of a side dish or lunch size serving as pictured in this bowl).


Serve with some whole wheat pita bread to mop up any left-over juices, a fresh green salad, and maybe some chilled fruit. The photo of this dish on the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers blog shows it garnished with crushed, hot chili peppers. You can decide it you want or need to add that. For my taste (and I do like spicy hot food) this dish was definitely spicy enough without any added chili powder as a garnish!

Warda says this dish keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 days, although she never recalls keeping it longer than one day. I don’t expect that it will last that long in my refrig either!

From start to finish, this recipe took only 30 minutes to make, which included all the chopping. During the time that the recipe was finishing up on the stove-top after adding the bulgur, I had plenty of time to feed our dog, empty the dishwasher, clean up the prep area of the kitchen, start to load the dishwasher up again, sweep the kitchen floor, sort the mail, and get the table cleared off ready to eat.

This is home fast food, tasty beyond delicious, ultra-healthy, and easy to make. The beet greens were the only ingredient in this recipe that is not part of my standard grocery store list and/or already on my pantry shelves. Pick up some available greens soon at your favorite place to purchase locally-grown fresh produce and enjoy this delicious dish!

Where kale (and also beet greens) are more than decoration on my plate!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

7 comments:

Shayne said...

I have to say reading Warda's post last night and then you post first thing this morning on bulgur and greens I am really starting to crave this dish...I have not looked for bulgur here in Mexico yet but I have not had any luck finding kale yet and I am really craving that green. I never realized how often I ate kale while in michigan. I added the stuff to a lot of dishes and meals. today will be the hunt for kale and bulger!

Shayne said...

I have to say reading Warda's post last night and then you post first thing this morning on bulgur and greens I am really starting to crave this dish...I have not looked for bulgur here in Mexico yet but I have not had any luck finding kale yet and I am really craving that green. I never realized how often I ate kale while in michigan. I added the stuff to a lot of dishes and meals. today will be the hunt for kale and bulger!

Anonymous said...

Mashed Potatoes with chopped Kale is a family favorite on St. Paddy's Day...green mashed potatoes, what could say Irish and good health to ya(!)any better?
Just chop the kale into strips, boil with potatoes and mash altogether.
Enjoy!
Julia

Diana Dyer said...

Julia,
We'll do it! Thanks for the suggestion. In addition, add it to the cabbage in the corned beef and cabbage!
Diana

Anonymous said...

Planted my first patch of beets this summer. The results underground were fair, but I also found myself needing a recipe for the big bowlful of tender greens from the patch (and use up the tofu in the fridge in the process)

Great recipe. I LOVE heat and tofu in 'soup' so I'll make this dish using the recipe you provided many more times. My partner, who is not adverse to heat, would have preferred probably 1/4 tsp-ish less of the red pepper and also wondered about substituting white beans for tofu, which would probably be good. I realized at the last minute we were out of bulgur so I used quinoa (scant 3 tbs and a tiny bit of water) which was tasty.

There you have it. This will definitely make it (in varying forms) into our regular rotation of meal recipes. Thank you. Your blog is a great 'google' find!

Diana Dyer said...

No recipe is ever cast in stone in our house - variations abound depending on what is on the pantry shelf or garden. No rules, just guidelines! Glad you googled your way here. Please stop back. :-)

Val n Marty said...

This was delicious, Diana. We joined a winter CSA, what a brilliant idea! Part of the jointure was frozen kale. I love kale but we rarely buy it because my husband cooks and shops, and is not familiar. He is so hooked now....

Thanks for this wonderful website, great information and good writing. Be well, you and your family.