Here is the last of my recipes in the six-part series on quick-cooking whole grains that has been running weekly in The Washington Post. This one is adapted from my new book WHOLE GRAINS FOR BUSY PEOPLE.
The pilaf calls for the coarse bulgur which cooks in about 20 minutes. Coarse bulgur is distributed by Goya and readily available in supermarkets–or you can mail-order it from Sunnyland Mills (see my blog roll). Keep in mind that bulgur, which is pre-cooked, is not the same as cracked wheat; the latter is raw and has different cooking requirements.
Canned beets are surprisingly good and their color bleeds to create a gorgeous red pilaf that makes a substantial quick-and-easy main course.
2 tablespoons peanut or safflower oil
2 15-ounce cans sliced beets (juice reserved)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound ground lamb
1 1/4 cups coarse bulgur
2 tablespoons mild curry powder (I like Merwanjee Poonjianjee & Sons in tins and widely available; it contains salt)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Juice from 1 lime (optional)
Heat the oil in a heavy, medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Drain the beets through a colander so the cans’ liquid is caught in a 2-cup measure. Pour out all but 1 cup of the beet liquid, then add the water to make 2 cups.
Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the lamb and cook until it loses its pink color, breaking up clumps as you go. Stir in the bulgur and curry powder and cook, stirring constantly, an additional 30 seconds.
Add the tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds, then carefully add the beet-water mixture (an initial hit of steam will arise). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed; you can check the liquid reduction once or twice and adjust the heat as needed. Turn off the heat, and let the bulgur sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
Uncover the bulgur and add the beets and pine nuts; toss to mix well. Divide among individual plates and sprinkle each portion with the parsley. If desired, squeeze a little lime juice on each portion; taste and add a pinch of salt if needed. Serve immediately.