Monday, November 2, 2015

Simply Ancient Grains: Bulgur with Chard and Saffron-Infused Yogurt

Earthy, whole-grain Bulgur with Chard and Saffron-Infused Yogurt
My pantry is overflowing with delicious grains, each in its own mason jar for safekeeping.  I love their hearty earthiness, and that they're a healthy alternative to the more mainstream pasta or rice.  

Thank you to Simply Ancient Grains for sponsoring today's article.

I received a copy of Simply Ancient Grains, fresh and flavorful whole grain recipes for living well by Maria Speck, and it is just the type of book I love to dive into.  Thick, matte pages.  Oversized photos of ingredients and recipes, and new twists on using classic ingredients.  

Excited to use the saffron in my cupboard and gorgeous chard growing in my garden, I've decided to test the recipe for Bulgur with Chard and Saffron-Infused Yogurt.  I quote, from page 188 (and have added some of my photos):

Earthy, whole-grain Bulgur with Chard and Saffron-Infused Yogurt

bulgur with chard and saffron-infused yogurt

When I entertain, I always want to get away with a stunning yet stupendously easy main course.  This is one of them.  If you've tried bulgur only in tabbouleh, this one-pot meal is just as enjoyable.  Pouring the deep orange saffron-infused yoghurt on top of the bulgur, flecked with colorful rainbow chard, always makes me pause in my tracks.  Don't hesitate to use freshly pressed garlic - any harshness is mellowed by the yogurt, bringing all the flavors together.

This is a versatile dish.  Enjoy it as a terrific light vegetarian meal or sere it next to roast chicken, grilled lamb chops, salmon, or trout.  It also makes a lovely side for a potluck or picnic (keep the yogurt and almonds separate until ready to serve).  And it doubles beautifully.  gluten-free option.

Scant 1/4 teaspoon loosely packed saffron threads
1 tablespoon hot water
1 bunch chard, preferably Swiss rainbow
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped green onions, white and dark green parts (about 3)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup medium-coarse bulgur (use quinoa for gluten-free)
1 3/4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or 1/8 teaspoon dried red chile flakes, or more as needed (optional)
1 cup whole milk yogurt or low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds


fine points
For best flavor, make the saffron yogurt ahead, a few hours or up to 1 day

VARIATION: Young tender kale an be substituted for the chard.


Add the saffron to a small bowl and cover with the hot water.  Set aside for about 15 minutes.

Earthy, whole-grain Bulgur with Chard and Saffron-Infused Yogurt

Meanwhile, trim the chard stems and chop them into 1/4 inch pieces; roll the leaves into a tight bundle and cut into 1/2-inch ribbons; if the leaves are large, cut the ribbons crosswise a few times as well.

Heat a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl in the oil and wait until it's shimmering.  Add the green onions, the chard stems, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions wilt ant he stems soften, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the bulgur until all grains are coated, and cook, stirring often and watching closely until the grains smell toasty and the bottom of the pot turns dry, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the broth (it will splatter!), the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is tender with a bit of chew, 10 to 12 minutes.  Stir in the chard leaves and remove the pot from the heat.  Set aside for 3 to 5 minutes for the leaves to wilt.

Earthy, whole-grain Bulgur with Chard and Saffron-Infused Yogurt

Stir in the garlic and Aleppo pepper.  Season to taste with Aleppo pepper, salt, and pepper.

To finish, add the yogurt to a small bowl.  Stir the saffron-infused water into the yogurt and beat will to create a smooth, golden cream.  When ready to serve, spoon the bulgur mixture onto a large rimmed serving plate and pour the saffron yogurt on top.  Sprinkle with almonds and serve at once.


The recipe was a success.  At the first bite, I was unsure about the unique mix of ingredients.  But before I could think twice, I'd devoured my whole bowl and gone in for seconds!  It has the hearty, earthy goodness that is addictive.  I love that it was quick and simple to prepare - it will definitely be added to our weeknight repertoire!

A few tips from my experience with the recipe:

1) Its always a good idea, but especially with this quick-paced recipe, to read the instructions fully before jumping in.  The recipe is simple, but moves quickly once things get cooking.  Its best to have an idea of what is coming next to make the whole process go seamlessly.

2) Note that the chard leaves don't get added until the end.  I added them together with the stems, which turned out fine, but I'm sure the results would be even better if they're tossed in at the last minutes of cooking.

3) Save a dish, and pour the yogurt directly into the small bowl where the saffron is infusing. 

4) It says it makes a great main dish, which is what we did - but I'll be using it as a side from now on.


Earthy, whole-grain Bulgur with Chard and Saffron-Infused YogurtEarthy, whole-grain Bulgur with Chard and Saffron-Infused Yogurt


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