You know how pregnant women sometimes have averse reactions to certain smells and tastes in the first trimester? Well, that happened to me 8 years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest child. I used to walk home from work, past a deli that made bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches all day long. Even at 6:00 pm, you could waltz in there and order a bacon, egg and cheese. The smell of bacon lingered heavily for an entire block, so much so, that even the thought of bacon started to turn my stomach. I had to take a whole new route home just to avoid the sick feeling that came over me every time I walked by that place.
Here's the thing: the first trimester passed and I should have gotten over it. But I didn't. I actually *hated* bacon for years after. I never had it in my home. I certainly never ate it. I couldn't stomach the smell. For years! My husband bordered on despondent about it. How could I hate bacon? I don't know, it just sort of happened. The funny thing is, it wasn't until earlier this year that I finally got over it. Phew!
Recently (and out of the blue) I thought about Rumaki - an appetizer that my mom used to make years ago for fancy parties with bacon and chicken livers and water chestnuts. I loved that as a kid. Then I got to thinking about how well bacon goes with dates. Next thing I knew, I had tested a recipe a half dozen times before I came up with something that I felt really happy about. I wanted to combine dates, bacon and apple but I didn't want something complicated. And I didn't want something too heavy. It had to be something that I could chop up for my one year old and something my older kids would at least consider. I tried this recipe with various shapes of whole wheat pasta and Israeli couscous and can say with certainty that bulgur wheat is the way to go. It adds volume and texture without being overwhelming.
My husband declared it "delicious" and was humming with happiness after seeing (and smelling! and tasting!) bacon at home again. It has heartiness thanks to the bacon, crunch courtesy of the apple and a hint of natural sweetness thanks to the dates. There's scallion included to keep it savory, apple cider vinegar for a bit of tang and cayenne for a small kick. And so, without further ado, here's the recipe for my new Sunday favorite (this serves 3-4):
Bacon, Date & Apple Salad
4 oz bacon (we used Applegate Uncured Sunday Bacon)
1 cup of bulgur wheat
1/4 cup chopped dates (we used Peeled Snacks Go Figure and snacked on the figs and dried apricots while cooking)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup green apple, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
dash of cayenne
Pan fry the bacon as directed and drain the fat on a paper towel. When slightly cooled, chop the bacon into small pieces. Place bulgur wheat in a bowl and add the chopped bacon, chopped dates and olive oil and combine well. Mix in the chopped apple and scallion. Add cider vinegar and cayenne and combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Note: I did not add salt to this dish, but feel free to add salt to taste, of course.