101 ways to eat a lentil?
June 15, 2006

Maybe it's hubris this belief that I can triumph over measuring cups. At least, I think that's how I ended up with enough lentil-bulgur salad to feed, possibly, all of Rhode Island.

It began lazily: ordering Greek takeout Sunday night and thinking I could probably replicate the lentil-bulgur salad (not so far from the tabbouleh I'd already mastered) and eat it all week for lunch. On Tuesday I picked up a bag of lentils and threw half the bag (which seemed reasonable) in some boiling water. Once the lentils were mostly soft, I took the pot off the heat and added what I now realize was far more bulgur that I ought to have (also about half a package; a fourth may have sufficed) and covered the pot. When I came back 10 minutes later to check, the bulgur was lifting the lid off the pot. I tried to dump my mixture into a bigger bowl, but everything kept expanding. Pretty soon there was going to be more bulgur than tiny kitchen.

Obviously my proportions were off, so I started boiling the rest of the lentils to try to balance. I sauteed not just the onion I'd planned to add, but every other onion-like food I could find, including some questionable scallions. I added everything to the biggest bowl I own, along with copious salt. It tasted okay, but all that earth-colored grain and bean substance looked deadly (the consistency is not unlike vegetarian haggis). The fridge was nearly empty, but I found half a bunch of cilantro. I seasoned with red pepper hoping that something that tasted spicy would look more exciting (no such luck).

It's very good; almost exactly like my Greek takeout. But I've made four meals of it so far, and it's barely made a dent in that bowl. I've convinced Tracy that it's appropriate movie-night food, a good complement to fondue and chili. Nicole—who got it for lunch at work—suggested variations with tomatoes and more herbs. Tonight I threw boiled shrimp into the mix, but drizzled everything with extra olive oil (it might be going dry).

So: help me. Now accepting suggestions for how to eat more lentil-bulgur salad. Winning recipe gets—well, wanna come over and help me eat it?