By mid-February, I can barely look at a root vegetable, having exhausted every way I know how to prepare them. But during the fall, when parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets flood the farmers markets, I am inspired and excited for the season. This recipe is no exception. I came across it on Chow.com while I was searching for spaghetti squash preps and I immediately bookmarked it for future use. We love bulgur, especially Johnny who likens it to cous cous, one of his favorite grains. This dish is healthy and delicious, and bulgur is an easy grain to work with because you basically add boiling water to it and let it soak up the liquid, which gives you time to get the rest of the ingredients together. We ate this pilaf as a side dish to grilled chicken (and I ate it again for lunch today) but it would be good with any type of meat. The lemon honey dressing is mild and the roasted parsnips and carrots give off little chewy bits of sweetness. I used slivered almonds because I was out of sunflower seeds, so feel free to do the same. But definitely put this dish in your fall rotation. I can’t wait to make it again!
Bulgur Pilaf with Parsnips and Carrots (from Chow.com)
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 cup medium-grind bulgur
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into medium dice
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into medium dice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 medium lemon)
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and is just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.
Add the water and measured salt and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bulgur, and stir to combine. Cover with a tightfitting lid and let sit until the bulgur is tender and most or all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, roast the carrots and parsnips and make the dressing.
Place the carrots and parsnips on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, season with salt and pepper, and toss to evenly coat. Spread the vegetables into an even layer and roast until cooked through and browned in spots, about 15 minutes.
Place the lemon juice and honey in a large, nonreactive bowl and whisk to combine. While whisking continuously, add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil in a slow, steady stream until it’s fully incorporated. Set aside.
When the bulgur is ready, transfer it and any liquid in the pan to the bowl with the dressing. Add the roasted vegetables, parsley, and sunflower seeds and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Let the pilaf sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes for the flavors to combine before serving.