There are still juicy, red tomatoes to be found in neighborhood markets in Beirut these days; this dish uses up a lot of tomatoes, the last of the season. The bulgur drinks up the tomato juice while cooking and develops a mild, tomato taste and a silky texture. Some people add diced green peppers to the pilaf.
A great choice for a side dish for a sit-down dinner or a buffet party (stuff one tomato per person); it is normally served in a big bowl but individual portions are more fancy. Plus, you can prepare it in advance. Also good to take to work for lunch!
INGREDIENTS: 6 servings
- 1 1/2 pounds of red and juicy tomatoes (or a large can of good quality tomatoes)
- 1 1/2 cups of bulgur
- 2 onions
- olive oil, as needed
- 1 green bell pepper (optional)
- salt, pepper
- Cut a cap off the tomatoes and using a serrated spoon (like the ones for grapefruit), empty the contents of the tomatoes. Transfer the tomato flesh to a bowl and dice them. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and flip them onto a cutting board to drain them as much as possible.
- Chop the onions and dice the green pepper; heat 1/4 cup of olive oil and fry the onions and pepper till soft, about 10 minutes. Add the bulgur and fry in the oil for a few minutes till all the grains are coated in fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour the tomato juice and more water (as needed) over the grains (about 2 1/2 cups). Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over gentle heat for about 25 minutes. Uncover and taste to adjust seasoning; scoop the pilaf into the tomatoes, place the tomato cap on and serve. This dish can be also served at room temperature.