Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Zerzevetov Pilav (Pilaf): A Vegetable and Bulgur Dish

My friend, Hasmig Eskandarian, sent me a link to a September, ’09 article written by Maria Titizian in The Armenian Reporter newspaper about a recipe called “Zerzevetov Pilav."

Titizian states that this recipe is native to Musa Ler (also known as Musa Dagh, the Mountain of Moses). I don’t think Hasmig realized it, but that is the region of Syria where my mother’s parents came from.

This recipe was of great interest to me since my grandmother made many variations of this dish based on the seasonal vegetables she found at the farmers market. Bulgur was a staple in my grandmother’s kitchen, as it is in mine.

Even though Zerzevetov Pilav is considered an autumn dish, it can be made any time of the year. In fact, it makes a perfect Lenten dish as long as you make it with water or vegetable broth. Simply add whatever vegetables are in season- or even your favorite frozen vegetable. Although my grandmother’s recipe is a bit different from the one Titizian included in her story, it’s just as easy to make, and very tasty.

Yeranuhe Nanny’s Vegetable* Bulgur**

Yield: 4-6 servings

½ lb fresh green beans*, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups water, vegetable broth, or chicken broth
1 cup (#2 or #3) bulgur
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup canned chick peas, rinsed and drained

Robyn's Note: I used frozen flat Italian (pole) beans, partially cooked them, drained excess liquid, then added them in step #3. 

1. Cook fresh green beans in lightly salted, boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Drain. Set aside.
2. In a skillet, sauté onions in hot oil until golden brown - but not burned, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
3. In a pot bring water (or broth) to a boil. Stir in tomato paste. Add bulgur, green beans, chick peas, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Reduce heat to low. Cover the pot and cook until liquid is absorbed and bulgur is tender, about 20 minutes.
5. Before serving, top with sautéed onions.

*NOTE: You can substitute just about any of your favorite fresh vegetables to this recipe - asparagus, zucchini, potatoes (parboiled first), tomatoes. The possibilities are endless!

** If you don’t have bulgur, use rice in its place. Use the same proportion of liquid (2 cups) to rice (1 cup). If using brown rice, follow the manufacturer's directions on the package for proper proportions.

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