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“I can’t. Sorry.  Bad timing.”

Those are the three incomplete sentences that the last boy I dated (yes, back in October.  there’s no shame in celibacy.) texted to me seemingly out of nowhere on one truly absurd Monday night.  And I am ashamed to say that I, myself, was forced to plagiarize them last week.

It was both a grammatically and ethically unsound move.  But it had to happen.  Dire times, you know.

I said them as I took my collection of baking chips and put them on the highest shelf in our apartment (the one that I risk spinal cord injury every time I have to scale two chairs to get to the top of it.  If that’s not a deterrent…nothing will be).  I said them as I rid my freezer of all the leftover frostings and icings and cookie doughs that I had stored throughout the past year.  I said them as I told the head of my lab that I will no longer be working on characterizing genes that other people discovered and that have absolutely no function in insulin signaling in adipocytes, no matter how many ridiculous nanomoles of siRNA or completely non-physiological micromoles of insulin these other labs choose to throw at them.  (Actually, I think what I really told him was that I renounce them.  It sounded more official and less emo-teen-girl-drama.  He, um.  Laughed.)

(And yes. I’m still working on them.)

And then I said them to my laundry hamper full of clean clothing as I laced up my sneakers and headed out the door for a run.  Priorities.  Besides, who really needs unwrinkled clean underwear, anyway?

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My point is that the timing is never going to be perfect.  For anything.

You are always going to be “too busy” to go to the gym.  Life is going to be “too hectic” to really put in the time to online date (or get married or have kids, etc.)  You’re always going to have “not enough” money to spend on fresh vegetables.

You’re right.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do.  But you have to do them anyway.

By all accounts, I don’t have time to blog or to go to the gym for at least an hour (but usually an hour and a half) every day or to spend four hours sitting at a microscope staring at glowing cells.  But I do them anyway.  Maybe it means that I plan my experiments around when I want to go to the gym and wake up at 6 every day and cook dinner at 8AM sometimes.  So be it.  Because if I waited to have enough time…I would probably never do anything (other than sit around and eat cupcakes.  Funny how there’s always time for that.)

One thing that you should definitely make time for this week (and it does require a bit of time…sorry) is making this casserole.  Described by Martha Rose Shulman as a healthy moussaka without the meat, I have to say that it is so much more than that.  It is bulgur and kale surrounded by the most perfectly spiced tomato sauce you could ever imagine, heady with cinnamon and cloves, and topped with a parmesan yogurt crust that is cheesy and oh so satisfying. I proclaimed it on Twitter to be the best meal I’ll eat in all of January.  Perhaps a bit pre-emptively.  But when you know, you just know.

I have some more Internet inspiration this week in the form of this post by The Bull Runner that got facebook-messaged around the members of my running group.  It’s called Date A Girl Who Runs.  There’s also a Date A Girl Who Blogs.  I’m thinking I should write one called Date a Girl Who Runs and Blogs and Stares At Fluorescent Cells All Day.  It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

For more healthy living inspiration, check out Sarah’s, Cate’s and Patsy’s blogs!

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Bulgur and Kale Casserole with Yogurt Topping
Serves 4-6, adapted from The New York Times

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzanos)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 lb kale, stemmed and washed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup coarse bulgur
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup) freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute, and add the tomatoes, salt to taste, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, paprika and cloves. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the tomatoes are bubbling. Stir together, turn the heat back to medium-low, partly cover and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down and the sauce is thick and fragrant, 25 to 30  minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from the heat. Set aside
  2. To cook the bulgur, bring 2 cups water with salt to taste to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the bulgur, and when the water comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed. Remove from the heat, place a clean dish towel over the pan and cover with the lid. Let sit 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, blanch the kale in salted boiling water for 4 minutes. Rinse with cold water and squeeze dry. Chop fine (you can do this by pulsing in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.)
  4. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat and add one clove of minced garlic. When it begins to smell fragrant, in about 30 seconds, stir in the chopped kale. Toss together and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir in the bulgur and dill, combine well and remove from the heat.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a 3-quart baking or gratin dish. Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish, and spoon in the bulgur and kale. Spread in an even layer. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan on top and cover with the remaining tomato sauce, spread in an even layer.
  6. Beat together the eggs, yogurt and 2 tablespoons of the remaining Parmesan. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Spoon over the tomato sauce and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on top. Place in the oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until golden. Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes or longer before serving.

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You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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69 Responses to Bulgur and Kale Casserole with Yogurt Topping…Eat.Live.Be.

  1. Colleen says:

    Priorities! Love the running pic! And this recipe ;)

  2. That Girl says:

    It’s interesting. I always say that we find time for what we want to do – it’s all about priorities.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Amen. “Because if I waited to have enough time…I would probably never do anything.” What an awesome note to start off the day with. Thank you Joanne.

  4. You are my healthy living and eating inspiration. And this does look pretty darn delicious!

  5. geni says:

    I bet it is the best dinner you will eat in January. I don’t think that is presumptuous at all. It looks divine Joanne. I think I’m going to use your line and the line from your past date. I like it. It has a good ring to it and too many people need my attention lately. It. Will. work.

  6. I said the same thing to my baking ingredients. No more baking for awhile.

    I might make this with quinoa. We’re trying to eat meat less but still while going gluten free. But I still want to eat GOOD food. It’s hard.

  7. That short sentence is interesting. Seems the intention was to be diplomatic but it turned out otherwise. Ah well, he missed out on this delicious moussaka

  8. i LOVE that quote- so true! you just have to start!!

  9. Mary says:

    Time and place can be a problem for everyone. I hope those chips don’t get too lonely in the rarefied atmosphere of that upper cabinet. Your casserole sounds down to earth delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  10. Danielle says:

    His loss!! This looks great – We eat a lot of kale and I am always looking for new uses for it.

  11. Amy says:

    Oh my gosh, I love this. It could very well be my new mantra. Laundry…”I can’t. Sorry. Bad timing.” Stack of dishes to clean…”I can’t. Sorry. Bad timing.” Play pretend tea party…”I can’t. Sorry. Bad timing.”

  12. I agree with Amy. The idiot! Great dish and the pictures are wonderful.

  13. Rona says:

    What a great post! It is so easy to use the excuse that there is not enough time to avoid doing things. Thanks for reminding us to make time anyway! This casserole looks delicious. If it is your favorite January dish already, it must really be good!

  14. Jenna says:

    There’s no time like the present to think about my priorities and what I’m using the “busy” excuse for. Thanks for the prod to consider what I’m putting my time into.

  15. Pam says:

    Perfect timing! I was just reorganizing my pantry and found a big jar of bulgur!

  16. I love the sound of that yoghurt crust. And everything underneath it!

    I hear ya about timing – I’ve started getting up earlier to counteract the “I have no time” voice in my head, it’s not a perfect solution but it helps…

  17. Dear Joanne,

    That is a great attitude to have and a great way to prioritise what is truly important. Love the advice and this casserole looks delicious too. Well done.

  18. You are so right!

    If losing weight, getting in shape, learning a new skill – whatever – is that important you will find the time to do it. I have a full time job, a husband, and a baby. My time is MAXED, but going to the gym is important to me. So rather than going out to lunch with co-workers everyday, I go workout.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to jump on a soapbox in the middle of your blog comments.

  19. CLoves and cinnamon? Brilliant. The spices that scream cozy comforting winter food in a healthy casserole. Count me in!

  20. Karen says:

    Love kale. This sounds so yummy.

  21. Wow you know how to make a person hungry!! This looks so good!!

  22. Shannon says:

    this sounds fabulous!! and how true, nothing is ever perfect. i need to start making exercise a priority again, and pick some races to get me excited again :) can i have a scoop of this? whatever you do, don’t send me those baking goods…

    • Joanne says:

      I don’t know if you’re interested in doing a half marathon, but i signed up for Boston’s Run to Remember in June(or end of May…can’t remember). It could be fun to run it together! It was my first half marathon and I really loved it!

  23. Yay for bulgur (my new favorite grain) and kale (my good ol’ leafy green stanby). I never would have thought to make a casserole with these ingredients but, wow – how comforting does that look?! Also – your ex sounds like Berger from SATC. Not cool!

  24. OohLookBel says:

    You are a scream! Every girl who blogs should have a date, especially you. The kale casserole looks lovely, though I’d probably add a bit of bacon in there, too…

  25. Lora says:

    I love the idea of meatless moussaka. This looks like the perfect combination of healthy and delicious.

  26. Do you watch Sex and The City? He dumped me on a post-it. Your ex sounds like him. You could do better! Much better :).
    I love Casserole dishes. And of course, healthy ones are my fav. LOVE!

  27. kyleen says:

    Oh, how I agree that “there’s never any time” to do anything. I hate it when people use that excuse to explain why they couldn’t do something (…like say, call when they said they were going to, or finish their part for a group assignment). That being said, I suffer from procrastination too. Love this casserole. I’ve never tried bulgar, but I’ll make time for it!

  28. Lynn says:

    And I do so agree, there is always time to sit around and eat cupcakes. Or drink a mocha frappuccino.

  29. Faith says:

    Loved this post…you’re so right, it’s all about what we make time for. The casserole looks amazing! And I definitely thought of moussaka when I first saw it…Shulman’s description was on the money!

  30. Sarah says:

    Wow, you make that sound just heavenly.

  31. Nicole says:

    You are so, so right about what you’ve said here. I think that sometimes it’s hard to push forward when things don’t seem completely right. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut or forego opportunities. But we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do and forget about what’s practical or what makes sense sometimes!

    This looks wonderful. I’m obsessed with kale these days!! It’s so good.

  32. Reeni says:

    This casserole sounds dreamy with the cinnamon and warm spices! It’s calling my name! I have to work out early in the day – after a certain time in the afternoon I don’t even consider it. I’m lame.

  33. Joanne, why haven’t you found a sweetheart yet?

    But yeah, I agree, you need to schedule the important things in first and the rest will fall into place… sort of like plinko!

    This casserole looks oh so good, btw! Yum!

  34. Rachel says:

    Great post. Good timing, for me. I just found out that I didn’t get a job that I pretty much worked my butt off for the past three months to get. I’d say right now that the timing is less than perfect for everything for me…except maybe this recipe. This looks like exactly what I need.

  35. Pam says:

    We make time for what makes us happy and not always what is good for us. I’d make time for this casserole… it looks fantastic!

  36. This is my kind of cold weather casserole, though it hasn’t been really cold yet!

  37. Miriam says:

    The casserole looks awesome, great advice too! And by the way, that guy you mentioned at the begining of this post is an idiot. Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  38. This looks wonderful, and the addition of cinnamon is great. I have never cooked with bulgur before, but this recipe looks fairly accessible to try it on.

  39. This looks like a nice change of a dish. I am always looking for some healthy veg casserol dishes. I just doubt that i ll get bulgur here around, so I ll have to wait till I can cook your gorgeous recipe. Belated Happy new year to u Joanne!

  40. That looks delish! And you’re right–there will always be an excuse.

  41. Kim says:

    I agree. We have to make time for the things that are important to us.

    I love the idea of a moussaka without the meat. Oftentimes when I’m having a casserole I view the meat as an interference. To me it’s all about the rice (or pasta), veggies, cheese, etc. This looks terrific.

  42. Sanjeeta kk says:

    Now I know from where the glow comes on this lovely face :) Such refreshing and healthy eats! You are an inspiration to all who hates veggies.

  43. Allie K says:

    This looks AMAZING.. I wish I could have it but can’t have the yogurt or parm :( I love finding good casserole recipes!

    PS – Loved this post. I’ve been full of excuses for many things lately … You inspire me, Ms. Joanne! ;)

  44. Uh, I’m a huge fan of vegetarian moussakas! I make them all the time. But this is sooo much more than that. Beautiful!

    ?
    Camila Faria

  45. Victoria says:

    I can think of one more thing you need to make time for… your friend ME! Miss you!! Happy New Year :)

  46. I never thought of using yogurt in the topping. Something new to try.

  47. I’m totally obsessed with using Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, but this is a whole new idea. Looks great! And, you’re so right about timing – just an excuse.

  48. Kristen says:

    Your message was a good kick in the pants for all of us. Priorities. And fresh vegetables!

  49. Girl, you have an amazing talent of making bulgur and kale look sooooo good. I am craving this right now!

    And yes on the doing things already, even when the timing isn’t perfect.

  50. Yours looks so much better than the one on the NYT website! Looks so delicious!

  51. Allison says:

    Insanity. Can’t wait for the husband to be gone next week so I can make this and not share one bite.

  52. Carolyn Jung says:

    Casseroles always need a little creaminess. And it’s so great that this one gets that from yogurt. Yum!

  53. tigerfish says:

    I am quite open to trying new grains and I have not tried bulgur before though it has been in my to-try list for some time.

  54. peachkins says:

    This is one interesting and flavorful casserole!

  55. That casserole looks so good! A great invention. Yummy!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  56. Jeanette says:

    I am definitely bookmarking this and saving it for “when I have time.” Seriously – this looks amazing and I will make the time to try this.

  57. Date a girl who runs – I love it!

  58. Wow…I’m loving everything about this dish. Now if I could just get my husband on board with it. Oh never mind…more for me. :-)

  59. Dana says:

    I almost never get stomach aches from the food I make but I did once feel terrible after making a moussaka. The topping was just way too rich – cream, butter, eggs. I might as well have been eating a cake. This is so much healthier and it looks awesome!

  60. Johanna GGG says:

    sounds lovely – I guess you could use other grains as I suspect on my forthcoming pantry clean out – soon as I read this post I promise because there is never a good time for it – I will discover my bulgar supply is in a bad way

  61. Deborah says:

    Funny – I just went through my fridge and threw out all of the frosting I had stored in there. :) This sounds so delicious – and comforting as well!

  62. elly says:

    Here is yet another recipe I’ve saved already, too. You’re really making me look bad, in terms of getting through my starred recipes…

    Your pic looks even better than the original and now I really, realllllllly want to make this.

  63. Doesn’t seem like he was worth the time to me…too bad for him! Your casserole however is indeed worth the time, delicious :)

  64. Yes I completely agree Joanne, timing is never perfect, you need to do just do things. I’m really intrigued by this casserole especially the yogurt egg cheese topping hmm.

  65. Andrea says:

    This casserole was fantastic, and even budget-friendly. I replaced the fresh kale with frozen blue curled kale from the WF freezer, and used quinoa instead of bulgur because it was what I had in the house… not only was this dish incredibly tasty, but it reheated well and lasted a couple of days. Thanks for posting this!

  66. This looks like that perfect balance between decadent flavor and healthy ingredients. Yum! ;-)

  67. Karen lopez says:

    This was great! As a mostly vegetarian, I often find tasty recipes are just not hearty enough for me. This one was filling. I especially love the yogurt topping. The egg makes it stay together so it really provides a separate flavor. I think I can use the yogurt topping for many dishes.

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