Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bulgur Salad with Carrot-Pistachio Pesto

I saw this in recipe Whole Living, an awesome magazine my lovely sister-in-law gave me for my birthday. I was skeptical, as it has a LOT of fat, although only 2 grams of it is saturated, but intrigued because I had never used bulgur. Which, by the way, is awesome. You barely even have to cook it! And, of course, the carrot-pistachio pesto sounded interesting. It was surprisingly a big hit with me and both Grahams and it was very filling, much more than I anticipated. Graham really loved it because of the raisins, and ate almost his whole bowl. I slightly altered the recipe from the original.

1/2 cup cracked bulgur
3/4 cup boiling water
15 oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp shallot, minced
1/4 cup raisins (I just discovered they have organic raisins in the bulk bins at Whole Foods)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh spinach

Put the bulgur in a big, heat proof bowl with the hot water and cover for 30 minutes. (This is literally a "if you can boil water" recipe because that's all the cooking that's done!). Pulse the carrots, garlic, lemon juice and pistachios in the the food processor until combined then drizzle the olive oil in as the processor runs to make the pesto. Add the chickpeas, shallot, raisins and cilantro to the bulgur, then toss with the pesto. Season with salt & pepper and serve on a bed of fresh spinach.

The big take-aways from this recipe are that bulgur might be my new favorite grain, and that you can make pesto out of anything. I've tried herbs and even spinach, but it never crossed my mind to use carrots. Armed with this knowledge and knowing that I almost have some sort of pasta, nuts, garlic and vegetables around means I always have something for dinner! I'm thinking broccoli pesto or maybe kale pesto next.

*As I mentioned this recipe is high in fat, the magazine lists 19 grams in the nutritional info. But, only 2 grams is saturated. That means the rest is unsaturated, which is the "good" kind of fat because it decreases LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and increases HDL (high-density lipoproteins). LDL fat is the kind that contributes to atherosclerosis, other heart complications and hypertension. HDL fats actually help lower cholesterol. It's good to keep in mind that calorie wise fat is fat. Whether unsaturated on saturated, it contains 9 calories per gram (protein and carbohydrates both have 4/gram).

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