Bulgur salad with preserved lemon chicken

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One of my favourite grains is bulgur. I always have at least 1 bag at home. Mainly I use it in salads, combining it with all sorts of vegetables. Recently I bought very juicy Medjool dates while shopping and once back home I had to decide what exactly I wanted to use them for. It took only a few minutes brainstorming to come up with the following recipe. Since then I have made this recipe a couple of times. Hope you will find it as tasty as I do.

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Bulgur salad with preserved lemon chicken

250g bulgur

500g vegetable broth

1 red onion, halved and sliced

6 Medjool dates, stone removed, cut into long stripes

100g pine nuts or chopped pistachios

1 garlic, finely chopped

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 heaped tbsp harissa paste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Olive oil, for drizzling 

For the chicken breast:

2 skinless chicken breasts

4 garlic, crushed and chopped

1 big preserved lemon or 2-3 small ones, chopped

1 pack coriander, chopped (including stems), keep some leaves aside for decoration 

Lemon juice, to taste

100ml olive oil, for marinating 

First marinate the chicken breasts. Put all the ingredients for the chicken including the chicken breasts into a large freezer bag. Let most of the air out and close the bag with a knot. Now massage the chicken with the oil, lemons, garlic and coriander. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180C fan.

Bring the bulgur with the vegetable broth to a boil and simmer with a lid on, over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer to a big bowl and use a fork to fluff it up.

For the salad, fry the nuts in a dry pan until they turn golden brown. Keep an eye on them and shake frequently so they don’t get burned. Once done, put them into a bowl and set aside. Use the same pan putting 2-3 tbsp of olive oil into it and sweat the onions with a pinch of salt over a medium heat until soft. Add the chopped garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine vinegar. Tip the onions, dates, pistachios and the harissa paste into the bulgur and mix well.

Use the same pan to fry the chicken with all the marinade, both sides 3 minutes then transfer all of it onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Place the chicken onto a plate to rest, while mixing the marinate into the bulgur salad. Season to tase with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Divide the salad between two plates. Cut the chicken into slices and lay on top of the salad. Drizzle with some olive oil, decorate with the leftover coriander and serve. I like to eat my portion with plain yoghurt on the side.

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Instead of putting the chicken on top, you can cut the chicken into smaller pieces and mix it under the salad.

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It’s also very tasty without any chicken!

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Warming winter soup

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I just came back from a fantastic round trip in Italy. Driving through Tuscany, Amalfi Coast and Umbria, I had so many delicious meals, that I got inspired to cook a typical Umbrian soup: Zuppa di legumi. The weather here is getting cooler each day and I am longing to go back to Italy to soak up more sun, but instead I’m standing in my kitchen and cook hearty Italian food to share the recipes with you.

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Warming winter soup

500g mixed dried pulses ( red, green, yellow and brown lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas, butter beans,cannellini beans, borlotti beans)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

200g smoked streaky bacon, diced

1 carrot, chopped

1 leek, sliced in thin rings

3 sprigs rosemary, chopped

5 medium tomatoes ,  hopped

5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

1,5 liter vegetable stock

salt, pepper

rind of Parmesan, approx. 2-3 cm thick

Heat the olive oil in a big pan, add the garlic, carrots, leek, bacon and rosemary and cook gently for about 10 minutes. Add the pulses, tomatoes, Parmesan rind and the stock, bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add the potatoes  and simmer for further 30 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper.

 

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