Thursday, October 20, 2011

0 Recipe #293: Bulghur Salad with Walnuts, Fresh Vegetables, & Herbs

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Need a simple, quick, and nutritious meal or side salad for lunch or dinner? Then try this recipe. :) Every single ingredient in this salad is raw and fresh; so in other words, there's zero cooking and the kitchen prep's a cinch. It's just a matter of soaking the bulghur, emulsifying the salad dressing ingredients (shake, shake and you're done!), and chopping up the vegetables and herbs. Et le voilà, nothing to it.

This dish goes particularly well with chicken, beef, and fish dishes, although it's perfectly capable of standing on its own as an entrée in and of itself. It's the kind of thing I'd probably make for lunch, or something that might taste particularly good on a warm, summer's day. Of course, you can have it for dinner too, or eat it any time of year. :)

Heck, you could even eat if for breakfast if you really wanted to do so. LOL. I don't know about you, but that's not the strangest thing I've ever eaten for breakfast. Probably one of the more atypical breakfasts I've had over the past few months consisted of a can of sardines on top of some wheat crackers, accompanied by a tomato and cucumber salad. Yeah, it's the breakfast of champions, I know. ;) When I'm I'm a roll with the recipe writing, sometimes creating 2-3 recipes a day, it's just a matter of practicality: Right now, I'm super-busy with various writing projects and other business-related initiatives, and this is in addition to regular workouts, the usual household chores and errands, and running three businesses, not to mention my activities as a one-woman recipe factory. LOL. However, that's not the only reason: It can actually be a good idea to make lunch for breakfast, especially when you've only got so many hours of natural daylight to snap pictures of a whole series of dishes. ;) This is why, when I get a chance, my next blog-related project will consist of constructing a light box, so when inspiration hits, it won't matter what time I start cooking and snapping photos. :-D

Bulgar Salad with Walnuts, Fresh Vegetables, & Herbs

Salad Dressing Ingredients:
1/8 c. (2 Tbsp.) olive oil
1/4 c. olive brine (reserved from container of gourmet, brined Kalamata olives)
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed red chili pepper flakes, or to taste (use 1/8 tsp. for mild heat; 1/4 tsp. is medium heat)

Salad Ingredients:
1/2 c. bulghur, uncooked (medium grade)
1 c. cold water (for soaking bulghur)
1/2 c. scallions, white and green parts, sliced crosswise into 1/4"-thick rounds (about 4 large scallions)
1/2 c. fresh basil, julienned
1/4 c. flat leaf parsley, finely minced
1/2 c. brined Kalamata olives, drained with brine reserved, pitted, and sliced into 1/4"-thick rounds (about 18 large Kalamata olives)
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 c. diced red bell pepper (about 1 large red bell pepper)
1 1/2 c. diced red green pepper (about 1 large red bell pepper)
1 15.5 oz. can of chickpeas (roughly 1 1/4 c.)
3/4 c. nonfat feta cheese*
1/2 c. walnuts, crushed
1 ripe Haas avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced (makes about 1 c.)

Directions: Mix together all salad ingredients in a cruet, cover tightly with lid, and vigorously (but carefully!) shake until well-blended. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, soak bulghur in cold water for 2 hours until soft and all of the water has been completely absorbed, about 2 hours. Set aside. While bulghur is soaking, place all of the remaining ingredients, except for the avocado, into a large bowl and toss. (It's important that the avocado be diced and added last to avoid being mashed into oblivion. LOL.) When bulghur is ready, drain it into a colander, and then squeeze out excess water using hands to press liquid out, or place in a paper towel and squeeze over the sink. Set aside. Transfer to large bowl containing other salad ingredients. Pour dressing over salad, and let marinate in the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

Yield: Approximately 2 qts. (i.e., 64 oz.). That about 8 servings of 1 c. per person (or 4 servings of 2 c. each).

Chef's Notes: If it's easiest, you can make the bulghur a day in advance, or the night before. It refrigerates well, and will keep in the fridge for a few days after you make it. In fact, the whole dish tastes better after it's been marinating in the fridge in a tightly sealed, non-reactive container for a day or two. :) The lemon juice and other acidic ingredients will help keep the avocado from oxidizing.

*To make this recipe vegan, just omit the feta cheese, or replace with a non-dairy cheese substitute like shredded soy cheese, etc.

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