quinoa and bulgur salad with pomegranate

Quinoa and Bulgur Salad with Pomegranate

Being a new parent these days is like navigating a never-ending maze of rules, guidelines and advice. Starting from before a baby is born and (I’m guessing) all the way until you send them off to college (or wherever), the information overload on what (not) to do, how, when and why can be unbearable. Do you attempt natural birth or say ‘yes’ to every drug and painkiller imaginable? Breastfeed or bottlefeed? Vaccinate or not? Co-sleep or move baby to its own room? Hold them too much or too little? Let them cry or tend to their every whimper? Expose them to educational media or completely prohibit TV until a certain age? I swear, having access to the internet and, with it, a wide range of sources advocating this or that when it comes to parenting…well, its a mixed blessing to say the least.

And when it comes to food and introducing solids…you are guaranteed to drive yourself bananas trying to formulate a healthy strategy as to how to approach feeding your babe. Many years ago (when I was a baby), babies were started on solids early, just a few months after they were born. And they often ate pretty much everything grownups did- including foods that would make most of today’s pediatricians cringe – like eggs, cow’s milk, honey, nuts, citrus fruits and other current no-no’s. My parents used to dip my pacifier into honey (a likely allergen) so that I would take it – I’m guessing this happened at the ripe age of few weeks old. There was very little thinking involved in what to feed your child – you looked at your own plate and probably mashed up whatever was there and that became baby’s meal. Life was simple. Parents didn’t worry (or know) about potential allergies and had no idea what celiac disease is. Glu-what?
And here we are, mothers and fathers of today, strategically introducing foods into our baby’s diets with the precision of a military exercise, waiting a certain number of days between each new food introduction, frantically seeking for the (at least in our corner of the world) hard-to-find gluten-free grains and seeds. Like quinoa, for example.

There is exactly 1 retailer of quinoa in Skopje, at least to the best of my knowledge. (For those of you that may think that Skopje is some foresaken village – there’s upwards of 700,000 people living here). A half a kilo (about a lb) pack of quinoa imported from Germany will set you back about 5 EUR. That wouldn’t be such a horrible price tag if you never knew that the average daily wage in Macedonia is less than 15 EUR.

Of course, Ognen’s little tummy needs no more than a few spoons of this precious Andean seed (yes, quinoa is a seed, not a grain) so a little goes a long way. Dipping into his quinoa stash to make something for mom and dad did feel like a misdemeanor though; like we’ve robbed him of many expensive meals. But I just couldn’t resist and decided to raid his mini-pantry last week to make this salad. To make sure I didn’t completely deplete his quinoa reserves, I used bulgur as well to bulk up the salad, along with a bunch of other ‘exotic’ ingredients that made this a pretty expensive salad to make. Like limes (which cost a fortune) and pine nuts (which are impossible to find here and I have to bring them in from Greece every time we go there).

Quinoa and Bulgur Salad with Pomegranate

I loved this salad, mostly because of the unexpected pomegranate twist. Ivica, on the other hand, places this in the notorious category of “not bad”. Don’t you hate that? When someone tells you that something you’ve cooked is not bad? Does it get worse than that? I think I’d rather have a flat-out ‘hate it’ comment. I think. But what makes it better is having this whole salad to myself. Plenty of expensive yums.

QUINOA AND BULGUR SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS
recipe adapted from junglefrog-cooking, which cites BBC Good Food as source
serves 2-3 as a main dish salad, or more as a side salad or light lunch

ingredients:

// ABOUT QUINOA
+ interesting NY Times article
+ quinoa health facts
+ how to cook it
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
// COOKING QUINOA & BULGUR
it is probably good practice to follow package directions, however, I tend to do the following:
+ for quinoa: I usually cook quinoa in 1:2 ratio (1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid – water or stock or whatever) for about 15-20min, on medium-low until the water is absorbed. kind of like you would cook basmati rice.
+ for bulgur: I typically avoid most package directions as they instruct you to cook the bulgur on the stove. What I do is soak the bulgur in boiling water in a bowl, about 2 cups of hot water to 1 cup bulgur. After about 20min the water should be absorbed fully so there’s no need to drain it.
Both of the above methods apply to cooking quinoa and bulgur for use in salads. Using them in faux risottos, stews, and other dishes will require different prep.

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2/3 cup bulgur
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube
  • 5 tablespoons pine nuts
  • seeds of 1/2 a large pomegranate
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

instructions:

  1. Divide the 1/2 vegetable stock cube in half so you end up with two quarters of a cube.
  2. In separate pans, cook both the the quinoa and the bulgur according to package instructions but also add a 1/4 cube to the cooking water to each (see notes on the left for how I cook these two). Let them cool, then fluff them up with a fork.
  3. While they are cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until golden. Also, if you haven’t already done it, deseed the pomegranate (a dirty job but someone has to do it).
  4. When the quinoa and bulgur have cooled off, drop them in a big salad bowl. Stir in the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, mint, green onions, lime juice and olive oil to the bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Chill for a few hours before serving.
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