I’m debating whether I should keep including “simple” in my recipe titles, since simple food is the name of the game lately, and really since my internship year started. But I guess it never hurts to call it out.
Anyway: this bulgur chickpea dish is indeed very simple, as the name implies. There’s some cooking time involved (though it’s worth saying that it can be shortened if you tweak the recipe ingredients a little), but the dish involves almost no active work. It’s as easy as mixing ingredients up and slow cooking, but in this case the oven does the work for you.
Beyond that, the recipe is full of nutrition—fiber, protein from the combination of bulgur and beans, adjustable on sodium and naturally low in fat—and incredibly easy to customize. I’ve been using a combination of chickpeas, sweet potatoes, canned tomatoes, and the un-seasonal addition of zucchini. Broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and cabbage would all be great additions or substitutions.
Speaking of that: I’ve tried the recipe with butternut squash in place of sweet potato and without either. The cooking time can be reduced to 25 minutes without the sweet potato or winter squash; with one or the other, it needs a full 45 minutes in order for those vegetables to be cooked through. So if you’d like to make this in a pinch, you could try another, faster-cooking veggie instead.
I kept the seasonings simple, but as I’ve been saying often these days, customize with what you have. Plenty of spices would be lovely in the recipe, including crushed red pepper flakes, which I didn’t add only because I tend to be conservative with spice. I don’t recommend skimping on the everyday lemon tahini dressing that’s linked in the recipe below; it gives the dish a touch of acid and creaminess that really enhances the experience of eating it! But if that dressing isn’t your thing, yum sauce or delightfully green tahini dressing would be great, too.
Here is the nourishing, hands-off, and simple indeed recipe.
Simple Baked Bulgur & Chickpeas
This dish of simple baked bulgur & chickpeas is rich in fiber, protein, an array of phytonutrients, and it’s easy to prepare. Served with a bright, creamy tahini dressing!
- 1 cup bulgur wheat (dry)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
- 1 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed or peeled and chopped (substitute 1/2 lb cubed butternut or other winter squash)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (substitute 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ras el hanout (substitute 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 batch everyday lemon tahini dressing
Preheat your oven to 375F. Mix all ingredients together in a Dutch oven, a cast iron baking dish with a lid, or any other casserole dish with a lid. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes.
While the bulgur bakes (or ahead of time) make the everyday lemon tahini dressing. To serve, drizzle the bulgur generously with the dressing and enjoy!
To shorten cooking time to 25 minutes covered and 5 uncovered, omit the sweet potato or replace it with a faster cooking vegetable (like cauliflower or green beans).
This recipe is a truly perfect option for meal prep/batch cooking, since it can simmer away in the oven while you do or prep anything else you need. And it makes generous portions: enough for four hearty dinner components (I’ve been serving it simply, with steamed greens and lots of the dressing) or six portions if you’re using it as a side dish with something else that’s substantial. No matter how you serve it, I hope it saves you time and gives you pleasure.
This week has been busy so far, with a nutrition workshop/conference yesterday and my final week at my current internship site. I’ve used my evenings to get grounded as best I can and my mornings to reflect on things during my commute. It’s all a work in progress…but it’s progressing. Happy Wednesday, friends!
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Garlicky Beans & Greens
There’s no shortage of winter squash in my diet at this time of year (at any time of year, actually), but I tend to eat the same ones over and over again: butternut, delicata, kabocha. I forget about good ‘ole acorn squash, which is actually the first winter squash I ever tried.
This week, I saw some adorable, petite acorn squash—each the perfect size for one person—at my health food store, and I figured it was time to revisit this too-long overlooked vegetable. I’m so glad I did. This stuffed acorn squash with garlicky beans and greens is a new, easy option for wintery weekend batch cooking.
Cooking the squash for the recipe takes a little time: forty-five minutes, give or take. But it’s a totally hands-off process, and while the squash is roasting up nicely, you can prepare the beans and greens, which is really just a matter of minutes.
Once the ingredients are ready, you can stuff the squash and enjoy them right away for a dinner that looks deceptively fancy, given how simply it comes together. Or, if you’re doing the batch cooking thing, you can store the squash and beans separately for instant weeknight meals. I actually stuffed mine on the spot and placed them in a large glasslock container, which worked just fine.
As is the case with most of the recipes I’ve been making during my internship, this one is flexible. I used collards and Great Northern beans, but chickpeas, navy beans, and even lentils would be perfect in the filling, and the greens are variable as well. I can’t wait to try this with broccoli rabe, which is a personal favorite! And while the acorn squash I got were the very ingredient that inspired this dish, it would be pretty awesome with delicata squash, too.
Here’s the recipe.
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Garlicky Beans & Greens
A hearty, nutritious stuffed acorn squash dish that looks fancy, but comes together with minimal work!
Servings: 4 servings
- vegetable oil spray or a few teaspoons neutral flavored vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or refined avocado
- 2 large (or 4 small) acorn squash, cut in half from stem to bottom and seeds removed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (1 can beans, drained and rinsed)
- 1 small or medium bunch collard greens, thick stems removed and sliced into ribbons (about 4-5 cups after preparation; substitute another chopped green of choice)
- 1-2 tbsp lemon juice (to taste)
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon salt)
- vegan parmesan, for serving (optional)
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Place the squash, cut side up, in a foil or parchment lined baking dish. Spray the squash on both sides with your oil spray, or use your hands to lightly rub/coat the squash with your cooking oil. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the edges of the squash are golden and the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
While the squash cooks, heat the oil in a large, roomy skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the shallots are tender and clear. Stir in the beans. Next, stir in the collard greens. Cook, stirring often, until the collard greens are tender (about 5 minutes). Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
To serve, stuff each squash half with the bean mixture. Top with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan, if desired.
A lot of my batch cooking amounts to big, one pot dishes, especially soups and stews. I could eat those dishes forever, honestly, but each time I batch cooking something different, I’m relieved to have more variety in my routine. This week so far, I’ve had leftover enchiladas and these stuffed squash halves for my dinners, and it’s a really nice break from bowl after bowl of stew 😉
Enjoy this pretty, yet easy dinner, friends. And thank you so very much for the lovely, wise comments on last Sunday’s post. I’ve been sitting with them and feeling grateful for all of you, which is a pretty excellent place to be in as we head into NEDA week 2019! I don’t have quite as many posts lined up as I did last year (#DIproblems), but as always, I have some words and feelings to share, straight from the heart.
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