Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ya Gotta Love the Carnivores

We've been watching the  Decorah Bald Eagles hatch three chicks and feed them for the last 4 weeks. One day the meal is fish, the next a rabbit and the next some rodent. It's nature, brutal and fascinating. One Saturday morning I watched at the edge of my chair until I couldn't stand it any longer, wondering how the first baby chick, who had wandered over the edge of the inner nest, would get back safely under her mother's wing. Mother Eagle was not alarmed. When I came back to check on them a couple of hours later, all was well. At that point the chick was quite small and there was still one unhatched egg. Now they are in snow, (isn't it spring?) Mom, Dad and 3 chicks grown to 4 and 5 times their birth size. 

My own neighborhood was once large orchard lots and a few houses. The orchards and neighbors have aged; some orchards have been replace with homes. As a result my neighbors and I  share our yards with an abundance of gophers and ground squirrels. We are all quite pleased to hear the hoot hoot of the barn owl family that has moved in. As I write this I can see one in silhouette on a utility pole at the corner of my yard. Welcome Carnivore. Help yourself to the bounty of my garden. (tee-hee) (Nature Note: a barn owl family can consume 1000 gophers in a year.) 

How do I segue from carnivore to a vegan salad?  I have no idea. Let's just take a leap.  

Spicy Bulgur Salad with Nuts and Tomato Paste Dressing
10 servings
I would rename this salad, Hearty Bulgur and Nut Salad with Spicy Tomato Paste Dressing
from Aglaia Kremezi's
Mediterranean Hot and Spicy

2 2/3 cup coarse bulgur, soaked in cold water for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender
     (I don't eat bulgur wheat so I substituted 1 cup of dry quinoa, roasted in an un-oiled pan for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, then cooked in 2 1/2 cups of water until soft.)

The Dressing:
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tablespoons ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

The Salad:
1 cup coarsely ground walnuts
1 cup coarsely ground toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup coarsely ground toasted salted almonds
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
the bulgur (quinoa) above

8-10 medium romaine lettuce leaves

Garnish with slices of sweet onion, sliced or chopped fresh red chilis

Drain the bulgur in a strainer lined with cheesecloth and pat with paper towels to extract all of the water.
Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a med size bowl.
In a large bowl, mix the bulgur (quinoa) and nuts. Add the cilantro and mix again. Pour on the dressing (it's thick) and toss well.  Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. 

Just before serving, taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve at room temperature spooned onto lettuce leaves and garnished with onion and peppers.
Keeps well in the refrigerator for about 4 days.

When I was mixing up this salad last night I kept thinking granola bar. It looks like one, it chews like one, but it's better than one. 

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