Monday, January 4, 2010

Beginning, Again

Oh January. You are the month I loathe the most. To me, January is about over-crowded gym's, healthy eating, ugly weather, and too-short days. It is also the most anticlimactic time of year, seeing as just under two weeks ago we were caught up in the magic of Christmas. Now the holidays have come and gone, and now we are sitting a month that doesn't offer much, although depending on how you look at things, a new start is a definite possibility. There is something quite wonderful about a new year, something utterly refreshing. You've got twelve brand new months to make anything happen. Twelve untouched months in which you can do, go, see, and create just about anything.

My new years resolution was to take all the essential vitamins every morning, and it isn't panning out so well. I'm two for five right now. I keep forgetting. Pathetic, I know. And certainly not a legitimate excuse. I heard Ginkgo Biloba helps with memory, so if I can somehow manage to remember to take it, all will be well. In other news, I've become a living, breathing cookie monster AGAIN. Being a cookie fiend during the holidays is completely acceptable, but I was really quite naive about quitting cookies for good. There is no switch to turn it off after the holidays are over. People keep baking and I keep eating, and THANK GOD for good genes. I feel guilty. I'm estimating that at least 95% of the population is trying to eat healthy and I'm sitting here stuffing my face full of sweets. To rectify this sad situation, five days into a new year, I decide that an incredibly healthy and delicious salad was in order.
Nothing like a bulgar and lentil salad to kick a new year off right. For some reason I feel like anyone who is reading this is going to roll their eyes and/or look at me like a complete idiot (*wink, wink, family..). Bulgar? Lentils? Who eats that crap anyways? I eat that stuff, and I LOVE it, wholeheartedly. And anyway, if you were one of those people who made a promise to yourself to treat your body a little better this year, this is a noble place to start.
Normally, this salad makes it's appearance in spring or summer where it makes a lovely side dish at a BBQ, but who's keeping track? All of the ingredients are easy to get your hands on, all year round, making it a perfect salad for making whenever you feel like it. Besides from being quite simple and basic, the salad has the most amazing texture/flavour combination: a nutty crunch from the walnuts, slightly chewy from the bulgar and lentils, a bit of sweetness from the carrots, and a zing from the shallot vinaigrette. I find this dish to be very satisfying, and slightly addicting. Really, I keep a bowl in the fridge and munch on it all day.

So I say put down the cookies, take some vitamins, and make a healthy salad. It's a new year!
Bulgar and Lentil Salad with Tarragon and Walnuts
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2004

I'm still in holiday (lazy) mode, and did not really make a valiant effort to find either tarragon and tarragon wine-vinegar. In all honesty, all that tarragon was not missed.

1/3 cup finely chopped shallot
3 tablespoons tarragon wine-vinegar
1/2 cup brown or green lentils
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup bulgur, preferably fine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup shredded carrot
3 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and chopped fine

In a small bowl combine shallot and 1 tablespoon vinegar. In a small saucepan simmer lentils in water to cover by 2 inches until just tender but not falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes, and drain well. Add hot lentils to shallot mixture and season with salt and pepper. Cool mixture, stiffing occasionally.

In a small heavy saucepan combine 1 1/2 cups water, bulgur, and salt and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer bulgur to a large bowl and cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Add lentils to bulgur with celery, carrot, tarragon, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, oil, walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste and toss well. Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

Yield: Serves 4 as an entree or 6 as a side dish


  1. This sounds delish! Happy New Year!

  2. I feel bloated and full: A salad is just what i need. Thank you for posting!
    love times a million

  3. Hi Jacqueline,

    I came across your blog and love it and thought you might like to take a peek at mine. I live in the French Alps and write about food and renovating our old watermill. Would you be interested in exchanging links? I am now following you.



  4. I have been perusing much of your writing the past hour or so and I'm quite hooked. You have a beautiful writing voice. I will look forward to checking back...and I'm going to try out that nice healthy new years' salad.