Yet another installment of my weekday lunch series. You can never have enough work-lunch-friendly dishes, now can you?
I work on the ninth floor of my firm’s office building. There are lots of conference rooms on our floor, and when a lunch meeting yields leftovers, they usually make their way into the ninth floor kitchen, which happens to be right across from my cubicle. When we hear the clomp-clomp of high heels in the kitchen and the rustling of plastic trays and wrap paper, we know it’s going to be good. Within seconds, my entire pod will have descended on the kitchen, scavenging for the best wrap, the freshest-looking corner of the spinach salad, the last piece of baklava. After poking around for ourselves, we’ll shoot out an email to our friends down the hall alerting them to the free food bonanza. We’re that nice.
Yesterday, there were two big trays of spinach salad in the conference room. Spinach salad = dry baby spinach, quartered artichoke hearts, shavings of parmesan cheese and dressing on the side. After everyone had a go at the salad (and the baklava and brownies), I rinsed out my lunch tupperware and filled it to the rim with dry baby spinach. That stuff is good, and not cheap — it’d be a shame to see it go to waste.
Around 11 last night, when I got to throwing lunch together, I remembered that spinach that I’d tucked in the fridge earlier in the evening. I decided to steam it for a few minutes and fold it into a bulgur salad, along with leftover mixed mushrooms and a couple of chopped, sauteed dates (one of my latest and greatest flavor-boosters). For some protein, I added half a can of black eyed peas; for background flavor, some caramelized onions. For zing, a dash of soy sauce, a hit of sherry vinegar, and some black pepper. That was really all it needed.
Much as I’ve enjoyed a week straight of Greek salad for lunch, I’m relieved that today’s tupperware contains no feta, tomatoes, olives, or capers. I’m kind of excited for lunch!
Bulgur with Black Eyed Peas, Spinach, Dates, and Mushrooms
makes 2 servings
1 cup bulgur, cooked and fluffed according to package directions (bulgur usually takes about 15 minutes in boiling water)
2 heaping cups raw baby spinach
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup mixed mushrooms, chopped
4 dates, pitted and chopped
2 Tbsp. caramelized onions
1/2 can black eyed peas, or about 2/3 cup cooked black eyed peas (other beans, such as navy or cannellini, will do just fine)
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
fresh cracked pepper
Chopped fresh parsley or mint, optional
Cook bulgur according to package directions, and set aside.
In a large pot, heat enough water to come about 2 inches up the side of the pot. Rinse spinach and place in steamer. When water is boiling, place steamer inside pot and cover with lid. Steam spinach about 6 minutes, until tender but still bright green. Remove steamer from pot and transfer spinach to medium bowl. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have given off their liquid and are fragrant. Salt to taste. Add chopped dates to the pan and cook one more minute, until dates are soft and warm. Turn off heat and transfer mushroom mixture to the bowl with the spinach. Add caramelized onions, black eyed peas and bulgur, and toss to incorporate. Add soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper and stir to coat. Taste and adjust, adding more salt, pepper, and vinegar as desired. Serve cold or room temperature. Sprinkle with chopped herbs just before serving.