Bulgur & Silverbeet Pilaf with Caramalised Fennel

I love bulgur wheat – It’s a brilliant alternative to rice and has it’s own nutty flavour which I find hard to resist. It’s a filling and satisfying dish that’s great for any wintery day. The ideal thing to make you fall asleep in front of the TV after you’ve eaten. Silverbeet pairs very well, both earthy and hearty and both filled with flavour. This is a fabulous little dish that I know you’re just going to love.

For the fennel:
1 fennel bulb (thinly sliced)
1 small red onion (finely chopped)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 lemon (zest and juice of)
salt & pepper

For the Pilaf:
1 small red onion (finely diced)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups hot vegetable stock
300g silverbeet leaves (roughly chopped)
salt & pepper
80g pine nuts (lightly toasted in a dry frying pan)
1 teaspoon sumac

For the fennel:

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a moderate/low heat. Add the onion and fennel and cook for 15-20 minutes stirring regularly until caramalised. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, zest and lemon juice and set aside.

For the pilaf:
Heat a large pan with the oil over a moderate heat. Add the onion and chilli flakes and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Add the bulgur and silverbeet leaves and stir for 1 minute until the leaves have wilted. Pour in the vegetable stock and season with salt & pepper. Stir once to incorporate then when you reach a boil, reduce the heat to very low and simmer very gently for 10-12 minutes until all the water has evaporated and the bulgur is cooked through. Remove the lid, place a clean tea towel over the pan then return the lid. This way, any steam that rises will be caught by the tea towel and not drip back into the pan to make the pilaff gluggy. Leave for 10 minutes then remove lid, sprinkle in the pine nuts and fluff up with a fork.

Arrange the rice in a serving bowl and top with the fennel. Sprinkle over the sumac and maybe even a pinch of chilli flakes if you feel like it, and serve. You can serve this dish hot or at room temperature.

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