Bulgur is a culinary staple in the Middle East. Kernels of wheat are steamed, dried, and crushed into coarse, medium, or fine grain. Perhaps the best-known uses of bulgur are in tabbouleh salad and combined with spices and meat for kibbeh. Here the bulgur is paired with small, green French lentils and hazelnuts to create a very elegant and nutritionally balanced dish.
- Combine the shallots and 1 tablespoon of the vinegar in a 1-quart glass bowl. Set aside.
- Place lentils in a 1-quart saucepan, and cover 2 inches with water. Simmer the lentils for 14–20 minutes or until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain well.
- Add the hot lentils to the shallot mixture, and stir gently to coat the lentils. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.
- Place the bulgur, water, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan, and simmer covered for 12 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Transfer to a 3-quart serving bowl, and stir to cool (or place uncovered in the refrigerator to cool).
- When the bulgur is cool, add the lentil mixture and the remaining ingredients, and toss to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Green lentils are very small, round seeds that are more common in Europe than North America. They are the only lentil sold with their seed coat intact and therefore do not disintegrate during cooking.
To remove the bitter outer skin of the hazelnuts, toast the nuts in a 350°F oven for 7–10 minutes or until they are golden. Immediately encase some of the hot nuts in a terry dish towel and rub firmly. The texture of the towel should remove much of the skin. (I carefully take the towel outside to my herb garden and empty its contents to act as biodegradable mulch!)