Pre-Damage Control.

When Jill and I are in each other’s company, the tiny bit of restraint we possess individually goes right out the window. (I shudder to think of the damage that would’ve been done had we known each other for more than a single semester in college.) Jill is joining me in New York tomorrow evening, so in preparation for her visit—and the reemergence of our not-so-hidden debaucherous tendencies—I decided that packing my lunches for the rest of the week might not be the worst idea in the world.

And considering the weekend’s eating agenda, making something cheap and healthy-ish seemed to be the way to go—it’s pretty much a given that nothing from either category will make an appearance on our plates once her plane lands.

I’d been craving a grain-and-legume salad—easy to transport and well-suited to a freelancer’s budget—and, after surveying my cupboards, settled on bulgur and lentils. My vegetable bin was pathetically bereft: I had parsley, left over from a failed endeavor earlier in the week, and a bag of somewhat wilted carrots. In a pre-cooking chat session, Jill recommended steaming the carrots al dente, but that skill turned out to be beyond my purview—steaming is too healthy to be something I’ve mastered, apparently. After tossing out two rounds of mushy specimens, I reverted to my initial instinct and finely chopped half of a raw one instead—crunch and color, all in one go. In lieu of dressing, I used this easy, delicious marinade, a few squeezes of lemon juice, and a hearty amount of freshly ground pepper.

I barely missed the bacon.

Bulgur and Lentil Salad
Adapted from the New York Times

1 cup green or beluga lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 small onion, cut in half
2 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
1 cup fine or medium bulgur
1/2 carrot, finely chopped
1 cup chopped parsley
Rebekah’s Perfect Asparagus Marinade, to taste
Fresh-ground pepper

1. Combine the lentils, onion, garlic and bay leaf in a saucepan, and add 2 to 3 cups water, enough to cover by an inch or two. Bring to a gentle boil, add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes until tender but intact. Remove from the heat. Remove and discard the onion, garlic cloves and bay leaf. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, place the bulgur in a medium bowl, and add salt to taste. Cover with 2 cups hot or boiling water, and allow to sit for 20 to 25 minutes until most of the water is absorbed. Drain through a strainer and squeeze out the water.

3. Combine the lentils, bulgur, carrots, and parsley in a large bowl or salad bowl. Toss marinade with the salad to taste, add pepper, and serve warm or chilled.

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