Ellen Whitney’s Eetch

Recipe Corner: Ellen Whitney’s Eetch

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A “meaty” vegan salad that can be a delicious part of a larger spread or a satisfying one-dish meal.

“The Mediterranean diet, a meal plan that emphasizes fresh produce, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats has proven to not only prevent diseases such heart disease and cancer, but those who eat this way are also at a decreased risk for depression, dementia, and weight gain. My mom is Armenian, so I was raised on this style of eating, and as it turns out, many of my childhood favorite dishes are naturally vegan, including this holiday favorite, eetch,” says Ellen Whitney, a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist.

“Eetch (otherwise known as eech, itch, metch or one of several other variations) is a cooked grain salad made with bulgur, roasted red pepper, tomatoes and onions. I was introduced to this recipe while visiting my Armenian relatives in Philadelphia for Easter, and at first bite I thought I was eating meat because it had such a rich flavor,” says Ellen. “Now that I don’t eat meat, and remembering my first impression, I love serving it to my meat-eating friends, and throwing in the ‘it’s vegan’ after they’ve raved about how much they love it in my mission to prove Health Tastes Good. My aim is to show that food that is healthy, nourishes the body, and gives it strength can continue to bring friends and family together to make lasting memories. Eetch is often served as part of an appetizer (meze) spread at gatherings, but it also makes a satisfying, easy-to-assemble one-dish meal. While this recipe is excellent served year-round, it’s extra special in the heat and height of summer, when cold dishes are welcome and vibrant fresh herbs, lettuces, and juicy, flavorful tomatoes abound.”

Ellen Whitney

“It’s better to think of eetch as a meatless meat dish. Traditionally, Armenians were known for being pious and carnivorous in equal measure, and with some 160 fast days scattered throughout the Armenian Church calendar year (including the 40 days of Lent), they faced near-constant roadblocks to enjoying meat. Which means that Armenians have made vegetarian and vegan cooking something of an art form, and eetch is one of our greatest creations,” says baking teacher, recipe developer, and writer Andrew Janjigian in Serious Eats. “In eetch, the meat is left out. The meatiness and moisture of the dish is instead provided by additional tomato in various  forms-paste, canned, and/or fresh-and the fat comes in the form of olive or vegetable oil. While it can be eaten with a fork, it’s more often consumed wrapped with a tender lettuce leaf or a shroud of lavash. And eetch is a perfect Lenten recipe.”*

“Bulgur, the main ingredient in eetch, pleasantly surprised the first time I learned its nutritional breakdown-thinking since it was such a complex grain it would be very caloric, yet it actually contains less calories per cup than white rice, brown rice, and quinoa, adds Ellen. “Just 1 cup of cooked bulgur is approximately 151 calories, .5g fat, 34g carbs (8g fiber, 26g net), and 6g protein. Bulgur’s most dense nutrient is manganese, packing over 50% of your daily need per cup, which is great for skin health (because it helps produce collagen), bone health, and helps stabilize blood sugar. Another bonus for me is it provides 15% of my daily magnesium and 10% of iron, two minerals I always have to consciously consume since I’m so active and don’t eat meat.”

“In August 2015, I adopted a plant-based diet. So many of the recipes on this site will be vegan, however, I’m also a personal chef and recognize that not everyone eats this way, so recipes including organic meats will  sometimes make an appearance as well. In addition to food and nutrition, my other passion is fitness. My favorite way to start each day is with movement. Officially, I am a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM); I have my 300-hour Modo yoga teacher certification, and have a marketing degree from the University of Georgia,” says Ellen.

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Once eetch is garnished, it can be served for every occasion and throughout the holiday season.

“Since this is a cold grain dish, it can be made at the beginning of the week to eat over vegetables as a salad, as a main course or a side dish, or as an appetizer using crudité, pita bread or lavash for dipping. Here’s the recipe my family always enjoys, be sure to take lots of pictures and let me know what you think once you make this,” says Ellen.

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, minced

1/3 -1/2 cup olive oil, to taste

2 heaping tablespoons red pepper paste

1 28-oz. can crushed tomato

1 6-oz. can tomato paste

1 large lemon, juiced, to taste

2 teaspoons sea salt, more or less to taste

Red pepper flakes, to taste

1 cup water

2 cups fine bulgur

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium bunch green onions, chopped

1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

Preparation:

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, add the 2 onions, and cook until lightly golden. Add the red pepper paste, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add the water, bulgur, and remaining onion. Stir everything together, cover, and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Check seasonings. Remove from heat, and transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. (The consistency should be like oatmeal). Cover and refrigerate. Garnish before serving with chopped green onions, parsley and red bell pepper.

References:

* “Eetch (Armenian Bulgur, Tomato, and Herb Salad)” by Andrew Janjigian, see:

https://www.seriouseats.com/eetch-armenian-bulgur-tomato-herb-salad-5202151

Note: “The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of olive oil, which seems like a lot when you pour it in the pan,” says Ellen, “but some will be cooked off, and this recipe makes a large amount, so when broken down per serving, it’s likely you’d only be consuming a teaspoon of oil. You can reduce the oil to 1/3 cup if you’d like, but I wouldn’t go lower than that. If you don’t have red pepper paste, simply use ground roasted red pepper.”

For this recipe, go to:  http://healthtastesgood.co/food/eetch/

For more vegan recipes, go to:  http://healthtastesgood.co/category/vegan/

For Ellen’s Baba Ganoush, see: http://healthtastesgood.co/vegan/baba-ganoush/

See:

https://www.facebook.com/armenianandmiddleeasterncooking/photos/a.285937295793/10157128230700794/?type=3

See:

https://www.facebook.com/otfnewport/posts/the-fire-at-otf-newport-is-hot-and-its-time-to-pass-the-torch-of-head-coach-to-t/2609955659299699/
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Ellen Whitney: Foodie. Chef. Modo Yoga RYT. NASM CPT. MRM Ambassador. #Fitfluential Ambassador

Ellen Whitney of Health Tastes Good is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide  a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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