Friday, July 5, 2013

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Roasted Red Peppers and Spiced Cumin Dressing

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Roasted Red Peppers and Spiced Cumin Dressing
Adapted from Jack Bishop, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen

Bulgur is a whole-wheat grain that have been cracked and partially-cooked. The grains are high in protein and high in fiber. Bulgur is a staple of the Middle Eastern and is used in dishes like Tabbouleh, Kibbeh or pilafs. You can substitute bulgur where recipes calls for couscous, quinoa or rice. The grains are light with a slight chewy texture and a nutty flavor. Bulgur comes in different grades ranging from #1 fine, #2 medium, #3 coarse and #4 extra course. Since bulgur is becoming more popular, you can easily find them in your local supermarket.

1-1/2 cups fine-grain bulgur (9.0 ounces)
3 cups boiling water (24 ounces)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1.2 ounces)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (1.7 ounces)
One 15.5-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drain well
1 cup finely diced roasted red pepper (6 ounces or two homemade roasted red peppers)
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley (0.4 ounce)

Place bulgur in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and immediately cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Allow the bulgur to sit for 45 minutes, undisturbed.

Meanwhile, in a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, cumin, cayenne and salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is well blended. Set aside.

After the bulgur sits for 45 minutes, uncover. The bulgur have tripled in volume. You will notice excess water sitting in the bottom of the bowl.

Drain the bulgur through a fine sieve, pressing out all the excess water from the bulgur.

In a large mixing bowl, add the bulgur, garbanzo beans, roasted red peppers and parsley. Toss well until thoroughly combined.

Add the dressing and give the bulgur mixture another toss until thoroughly combined. Transfer bulgur to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours before serving, allowing the flavors to bloom.

The salad can be eaten on its own along with some pita wedges or as a lettuce wrap. I like to serve this salad as a side dish to salmon or grilled chicken breast.

Yield 6 to 8 servings as a side dish or 4 as a main course

Monday, July 1, 2013

Golden Raisin Oat Bran Muffins

Golden Raisin Oat Bran Muffins
Adapted from www.epicurious.com

I have found the ULTIMATE bran muffin recipe. For many years, I THOUGHT I had a very good recipe for a wheat bran muffin. Not anymore! After making these delicious oat bran muffins, I'm throwing out my old wheat bran muffin recipe. This oat bran muffin recipe is a keeper! In my opinion, oat bran is more pleasant tasting than wheat bran. I've been making these oat bran muffins almost weekly. Bran muffins are usually the best when they are fresh-baked. These muffins will firm up the next day, but it reheats well. Just reheat them in the microwave for 15 seconds and they will taste just as good as fresh-baked. I've changed the original recipe to make it healthier by substituting WHITE whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. I also substituted unrefined coconut oil for the butter. The original recipe calls for half the amount of butter (coconut oil) than what I posted. By accident, I doubled the amount of coconut oil. It was already too late when I realize I added twice the amount of coconut oil, but it worked out for the better. Because I'm using whole wheat flour, the extra coconut oil made the muffins more tender and flavorful.

Golden Raisin Oat Bran Muffins

2 cups WHITE whole wheat flour (8.5 ounces)
Scant 3/4 cup Trader Joe's brand Toasted Oat Bran (3.1 ounces) - See NOTE below
1/4 cup unrefined natural cane sugar (1.8 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup golden and/or dark raisins (5.0 ounces)
1 extra large egg (1.9 to 2.0 ounces)
1 cup well-shaken cultured low-fat buttermilk (8 ounces)
1/3 cup mild honey (3.6 ounces)
1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil or butter, MELTED (4 ounces)

NOTE: Not all oat bran are the same for this recipe. I had tried several other brands of oat bran in the past and the texture of the muffins were more dense and drier. I had the best results using Trader Joe's brand in which the muffins are tender and flavorful.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven. Spray a standard size muffin pan with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl. combine the flour, oat bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Using a wire whisk, stir ingredients together until well blended. Toss in the raisins and set aside.

For the wet ingredients, I like to mix one ingredient at a time. In a separate medium-size bowl, beat the egg with a wire whisk until well beaten. Whisk in the buttermilk until blended. Add the honey and whisk until blended. Last, add the melted coconut oil and whisk until blended.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the entire buttermilk mixture in center of the flour mixture. Using a pastry fork or wire whisk, gently stir and fold the flour mixture with the liquid mixture until just until dry ingredients are moistened and finish folding with a rubber spatula just until incorporated. Do not over mix. Batter will be quite thick.

Divide batter among the 12 prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let muffin cool in the pan for about 5 minutes; then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

YUM! Enjoy!

Yields 12 muffins, approximately 267 calories per muffin