Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Gratin


Getting more whole grains onto our tables is something most of us are thinking about, and in fact possibly even stressing about.  Before you start cooking with them they can seem so mysterious, so intimidating.  They are just a grain, like rice or anything else, and they can enter your cooking repertoire in so many different ways.  Here in this Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Gratin, the bulgur wheat is first cooked, then layered into a casserole with sweet potatoes, lightly spicy black beans, and melty provolone,  then baked.  You could really use any cooked whole grain you like here: brown rice, quinoa, or couscous, for instance.  If it’s not tomato season, you can substitute diced canned tomatoes.

Using vegetarian broth makes this a vegetarian meal, but quite a hearty one.  And then it’s an excellent addition to a dinner menu or a buffet when there are some vegetarians in the group, who can enjoy this as a main course, and also a meat dish for carnivores, in which case this makes a satisfying side dish.  Passing lime wedges on the side to squirt over each portions gives the dish a wonderful bright finishing note.  My mother said this was, “one of the best things she’s ever eaten.”  I honestly thought she was kidding me for a bit, because she’s not that prone to hyperbolic compliments.

3 cups cooked bulgur wheat

2 cups diced tomatoes

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups shredded or slivered provolone cheese, divided

6 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and minced, divided

¼ cup sour cream, plus more to serve, if desired

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon pureed chipotle in adobo sauce

Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 large sweet potatoes, very thinly sliced

Lime wedges to serve

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Lightly oil a shallow 2-quart baking dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cooked bulgur, tomatoes, black beans, 1 cup provolone, and half the scallions.  In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, heavy cream, chicken broth, pureed chipotles, and salt and pepper.  Add the sour cream mixture to the quinoa mixture and mix well.
  3. Place half of the bulgur mixture in the prepared pan, layer over half the sliced sweet potatoes, barely overlapping the edges of the slices, and repeat using the rest of the bulgur mixture and the rest of the sweet potatoes.  Sprinkle the remaining provolone over the casserole, cover with foil and put in the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil, and continue to bake for a total of 50 to 60 minutes, until browned and  ubbly, and a knife inserted in the casserole slides in easily thorough the potatoes.  Remove for the oven, let sit for 5 minutes, sprinkle the rest of the scallions on top, and serve hot.  Serve with lime wedges and pass the additional sour cream, if desired.

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