Bulgur, Spinach and Tomato Casserole
Bulgur is a versatile cracked wheat product that can lend a nutty flavor to a variety of dishes. Because this is a casserole, it calls for coarse bulgur, which can also be used in pilafs, soups and stuffed vegetables. It is paired here with spinach, tomatoes and cheese for a bubbly and hearty dish.
- 1 cup coarse (#3) bulgur
- Salt to taste
- 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 plump garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or cinnamon (to taste)
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 12-ounce bunch spinach, stemmed and washed thoroughly in 2 changes of water, or 2 6-ounce bags baby spinach
- 2 teaspoons dried mint or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed) (optional)
- 2 ounces Gruyère, or 1 ounce each Gruyère and Parmesan, grated (1/2 cup)
Cooking time 105mins
Adapted from cooking.nytimes.com
1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the bulgur and salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, uncover and place a clean dish towel over the pan, then replace the lid. Allow to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes or longer. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, wide skillet or a shallow 3-quart saucepan and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds, and add the tomatoes, sugar, salt to taste, and allspice or cinnamon. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down to a fragrant sauce, about 20 minutes. Taste, adjust salt and add freshly ground pepper.
3. Steam the spinach until it wilts, 1 to 2 minutes, rinse briefly with cold water and squeeze out excess water. Do this by the handful to get out all the water. Chop coarsely. Add to the bulgur. Add the mint and the chickpeas if using, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce and toss together.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 2-quart gratin or baking dish. Spread the bulgur mixture in the dish in an even layer. Top with the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle on the cheese. Drizzle on the last tablespoon of olive oil. Bake 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Advance preparation: You can assemble this a day in advance and refrigerate. The finished casserole will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator. The tomato sauce will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator if you want to get that done ahead as well.
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