Eech, a perfect Lenten recipe

Once a week, during the Lenten season, Armenian Churches have an evening service, followed by a potluck dinner of Lenten dishes provided by attendees, and, finally, an appropriately themed program.

My recipe contribution for an up-coming Lenten evening is Eech, which is similar to, but not quite the same as Tabbouleh.

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Eech

A classic recipe for Eech, the 'cooked' version of Tabbouleh.
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • ½ large bell pepper Use any color pepper- red, yellow, orange, green, or a combination, for a colorful presentation.
  • ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley washed and finely chopped – Use 3/4 of the parsley in the eech mixture and save 1/4 of it to mix with onion for topping.
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. red pepper paste optional
  • ¼ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves finely chopped. (1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried mint may be substituted.)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves finely chopped (1/2 teaspoon crushed dried basil may be substituted.)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ¾ tsp. cumin optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fine bulgur #1 size

Instructions

  • In a medium-sized saucepan, sauté 3/4 of the chopped onion and all of the chopped pepper in olive oil until soft. (Save the other 1/4 of the chopped onion to mix with parsley for topping.) Add tomato sauce, water, red pepper paste, if using, lemon juice and seasonings. Stir well; bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Add bulgur, stirring well. Stir in 3/4 of the chopped parsley, reserving the rest for the the topping. Set aside to cool.
  • When cool enough to handle, scoop the eech into a 1/3 cup dry measure for a uniform shape when it is inverted onto a platter.
  • To Serve: Sprinkle the tops with the reserved mixture of onions and parsley. If you prefer, serve eech in a serving bowl, drizzled with olive oil and garnished with the chopped parsley and onion. 
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