Gorgonzola butternut bulgar salad

This fall salad works a number of ways. Substitute bulgar wheat with your favorite grain, butternut with your favorite squash, and toss in whatever vegetables you have on hand.

Eat. Run. Read.
Want to go vegan? Nix the gorgonzola. Craving some meat? Crumble some bacon on top.

The weather this past Sunday was the perfect beginning-of-fall warm with a hint of crisp in the air. I got all excited about autumn ingredients at the store, and brainstormed this hot (or cold) bulgar salad in the aisle of Trader Joe's. Butternut squash, beets, kale, and apples – it reads like a autumn CSA bag-of-veggies-list.

The following recipe is vegetarian, and could be vegan if you omitted the cheese. However, as I enjoyed it on my couch while watching "Top Chef Masters," I thought that crispy bacon top would be amazing. And if bulgar isn't your jam, you could use any grain (rice, quinoa, couscous, wheatberries, etc.). For me, a big part of settling into a new life routine is finding a food routine that works.

And we all know that getting established food-wise is a bother – staples, snacks, condiments! I have spent so much at grocery stores recently. I feel like these things should just exist without me having to do anything. And then there's the questions of where do I shop, how often can I shop, what do I make, and what kinds of food do I need? I moved just over a month ago, and I'm finally figuring things out. My class schedule is all over the place, so every day is different – sometimes I'm at school for just one class in the morning, sometimes I'm there all day and into the night. And the issue with that is lunch.

I don't like buying lunch because (a) I'm not a big sandwich person; (b) it's not usually that good; (c) it costs money; which directly corresponds with (d) I have no income. (Student life, woot woot!) And though I could join all of the on-campus clubs, thereby ensuring myself a steady supply of free pizza, ain't nobody got time for that. 

So! To solve my mid-day meal problems, I experimented with Tupperware-friendly "purse food" possibilities, and came up with this salad. As I said, it's good hot or cold, and this recipe makes about 6 servings. It's really easy to make, and as with all my real-food recipes, you can switch out any veggies/cheese/grain/spice combo you like.

Gorgonzola butternut bulgar

1-1/2 cups dry bulgar (i.e. one Trader Joe's 10-minute bag of bulgar)

3 cups butternut squash cubed

1 apple, cut into chunks about the same size as the squash

1 beet, cut into chunks about half the size of the squash (because beets take longer to roast)

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 pounds kale (it started as about 12-16 cups and cooked down to about 3)

1 can black beans

Gorgonzola cheese

slivered almonds (optional, to sprinkle on top)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. For the kale: Rip or cut kale into smallish pieces and stuff into a large pot with a lid. Add a splash of water. Turn the stove on to medium-low, and let it cook with the top on for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding more water if it looks like it's burning or drying out. 

3. For the roasted veggies: While the kale is cooking, on a large baking sheet, use your hands to toss butternut squash, apple, beet, onion, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes (or until done), tossing with a spatula every 10 minutes.

5. For the bulgar: Prepare according to package instructions (it cooks the same as rice, and takes 10-15 minutes)

6. Assembly: Add everything to the big pot with the kale (which will have cooked down a lot), add black beans (drained), and mix thoroughly. For serving, sprinkle with gorgonzola cheese and almond slivers. 

7. Storing: Spoon into Tupperware and store in the freezer. Defrost and reheat when ready to eat.

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