The holidays are a time associated with friends, family, generosity, fond memories, aanndd…. gaining 10 pounds/eating food that makes you feel terrible later but it tastes good now. Somehow that last portion doesn’t seem to be full of holiday spirit.
What if holiday foods instead were associated with freshness, color, and wholesome ingredients in addition to being completely delicious? It’s totally possible. Although this type of holiday food often doesn’t come in a premixed/box form, I believe it should be the new norm.
A salad like this was my first foray into healthy, plant-based cooking for the holidays inspired by a holiday edition of Vegetarian Times I read in high school. I never did find the recipe I used again, but it was so delicious I have been making similar versions of it every holiday since. The basis of the salad is a cooked grain (whether that be quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, or bulgur wheat as in this recipe matters not), dried fruit (I typically use cranberries around the holidays, because cranberries), toasted nuts (pecans and walnuts are good choices), and a citrus-y dressing. I also added legumes to this recipe in the form of red lentils (could also use garbanzo or a colorful variety like cranberry) to improve nutrient value and make it more filling. The more things that are toasted in this recipe, the better it tastes… at least roast the nuts, and get to the coconut and grain if there’s time. But, it does taste better.
1 c bulgur wheat + 2 c veggie broth
1/2 c dried lentils and 1c veggie broth
4 oz (1/2 c) dried cranberries
4 oz (1/2 c) dried apricots
8 oz (1 c) pecans
I also added 1/4 c pine nuts to this recipe because I had them left over from the previous recipe on this blog. They’re delicious, but the recipe is fine without them, too.
2 oranges (it’s too early in the season for oranges right now, but they will be in season in about a month when holiday time hits)
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c Red Wine or Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon mustard. Stone ground is my fave type, then honey dijon, then your normal yellow…. But in the end whatever you have lying around gets the job done and is therefore best. 😉
1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop apricots and pecans into bite-size peices, keeping them separated.
2.) Zest 2 oranges, combine zest with the juice of said oranges, mix with olive oil, honey and vinegar.
2.) Combine lentils and broth in a pot, bring to boil. Let it cook until water is absorbed and lentils are soft- about 15 minutes.
3.) While lentils are cooking, roast pecans in preheated oven.
4.) Also while lentils are cooking, dry roast the bulgur wheat in a 9-12 inch saute pan. Do this with frequent turning with a spatula until grains are fragrant and golden- 10-15 minutes. When they are done they will be crunchy but edible.
5.) Pecans will be done roasting when they are fragrant and crispy- avoid burning them because that would be sad…. And expensive. This takes about 10 minutes.
6.) After roasting grain, boil the 1 cup of grain in 2 c water, keep cooking until water is absorbed and grains are soft but not mushy… 10-15 min. Bulgur wheat doesn’t take that long to cook. When you make tabouli with it, you just pour boiling water on it and let it sit covered for an hour, and that’s enough to cook it.
7.) Combine lentils, grain, pecans, and dried fruit in a large mixing bowl.
8.) Add dressing to taste, mix it all up.
9.) Toast coconut in the oven the same way you roasted pecans. Five minutes in a 400 degree oven should do it. Garnish/mix in with salad.
10.) Can be served warm immediately or lukewarm the next day. Keep coconut and dressing reserved until just before serving, otherwise it will get all moist and wilty. Benefit of this recipe: if made ahead of time, it takes up NO oven space the day of a big event! It tastes yummy with cranberry sauce, too.