A few important headnotes here: First off, I cheated on a few of the steps here because I was camping and had just one pot. I am including her recipe as it appears in her book, as it was intended. Harissa can be found in many ethic food sections, or you can make it yourself. Also, Bulgar is often spelled bulgur or bulghur - I'm going with the spelling Diana uses in her book.
My camping shortcuts: I had coarse bulgar onhand, which takes a bit of time to cook up. Because we were camping I substituted couscous, which took only a couple minutes to cook once my broth was boiling (2 cups couscous to 2 1/2 cups water/broth - remove from heat, cover and steam for about five minutes, fluff with fork). Both are delicious. Wholewheat couscous is readily available here in San Francisco and worth looking for in your local stores as well. I threw the spinach in with the couscous and it wilted nicely, not as good as Diana's method but...it works. The other components were pre-made the night before and kept in mason jars in a cooler.
Another tip, consider making more of everything while you are at it. I used cherry tomatoes (all different shades of red, orange, and yellow) and roasted up a whole pan of them while I was at it. Same goes for the onions.
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
6 ounces bulgar wheat
1 1/4 cups (10 fluid ounces) vegetable or chicken stock
salt and pepper
10 1/2 ounces spinach
leaves torn from a small bunch of mint, torn
extra-virgin olive oil
For the labneh:
1 1/8 cups (9 fluid ounces Greek yogurt)
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt
For the tomatoes:
12 plum tomatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 - 1 1/2 teaspoon harissa
2 teaspoons soft dark-brown sugar
For the onions:
2 onions, very finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon soft brown sugar
juice of 1/2 small lemon
You have to start the labneh the day or night before. Just line a sieve with a bit of cheesecloth and set it over a small bowl. Put the yogurt into the cheesecloth and refrigerate the while thing. The yogurt will lose a bit of excess moisture over the next 24 hours, leaving you with a firmer mixture, a bit like cream cheese. Help it by giving it a squeeze once or twice. Tumble the yogurt into a bowl. Add the garlic, a little salt and mash it all together. Cover and put the labneh into the refrigerator until you need it.
Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and put them in a small roasting pan or oven proof dish. Mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, harissa, some salt and pepper, and pour this over the tomatoes. Turn them over, making sure they get coated, ending with them cut-side up. Sprinkle the soft brown sugar over the top and put in an oven pre-heated to 350F degrees. Cook for 40-45 minutes (hs note: less time if you use smaller cherry tomatoes), until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet. they can either be hot or at room temperature when you add them to the pilaf, so you could do this part in advance.
For the pilaf, saute the chopped onion in half the olive oil in a fairly heavy-bottomed saucepan. When the onion is soft and translucent add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Tip the bulgar wheat (or alternately couscous - see headnote) into the pan (on top of the onions you just sauteed), pour in the stock, and season. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let the bulgar simmer in the stock for about 15 minutes. All the stock will have been absorbed by then. Cover the pot and let the bulgar sit to fluff up for another 10 minutes.
Take the stalks off the spinach and wash the leaves well. In a covered pot, cook the leaves in just the water that clings to them after washing. they will wilt in about 4 minutes. Squeeze out the excess moisture and chop the leaves very roughly. Saute the spinach for a few minutes in the remaining olive oil and season it well with salt and pepper. Stir this into the bulgar wheat.
Quickly cook the finely sliced onions in very hot olive oil - you want them golden brown with some crispy bits. For the last minute of cooking time, add the cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir this around and, once the sugar has melted and begun to slightly caramelize, add a good squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.
Layer the different components in a broad, shallow bowl: tip in the bulgar wheat, sprinkle on half the mint, then the tomatoes, then the rest of the mint. Break the labneh into lumps and scatter them over the tomatoes. Now strew the onions on top, drizzle with a slug of extra-virgin olive oil, and serve.
Serves 4 to 8 (main / side).
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