Pligouri me Adrakla

Bulgur Pilaf with Greens

THIS RECIPE comes from Crete, but similar dishes can be found all over Greece. A typical meal of the poor, this pilaf uses the ubiquitous purslane, a weed that proliferates in gardens and springs up by itself in pots on the balconies of island homes. Purslane is crunchy, tart and sweet at the same time, so it is difficult to suggest a substitute. The thick stems of Swiss chard combined with some mâche will make a very different bulgur pilaf, but one I also love.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • cups chopped onions
  • 3 cups chopped purslane (keep the thicker stems separate)
  • 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • cups coarse bulgur (see Sources)
  • 2½–3 cups water, Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock, heated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grated hard feta cheese, plus more for serving (see Note)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Method

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onions over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Add the thick purslane stems and the pepper or pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute. Add the bulgur and sauté, stirring, until coated with oil. Add 2½ cups water or stock and the salt, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 4 minutes.

Add the remaining purslane and a little more water or stock if needed and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the bulgur is tender. Remove from the heat and let stand for 3 minutes.

Stir the feta into the bulgur. Drizzle with oil, and taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, passing a bowl of grated feta at the table.

Variation

Instead of the purslane, use 2 cups chopped Swiss chard stems and 1 cup chopped mâche. Sauté the stems with the onions and add the mâche at the end, with the cheese.

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