Summer Vegetable Bulgur Salad
Light, herby, and vibrantly flavoured, this bulgur salad is the perfect lunch or dinner for these summer days.
Loaded with herbs and vegetables, fresh broad beans and dried fruit, it's packed with nutrients, and makes for a super healthy, complete meal that can also be really customised to suit your taste and ingredient availability.
What is bulgur?
If you are unfamiliar, bulgur wheat consists of wheat grains that have broken, precooked and dried. When cooked, bulgur has a chewy texture, a mild aroma, and an earthy, nutty flavour. It's used widely in Levantine and Mediterranean cuisines on a number of savoury and sweet dishes.
Depending on how it is processed, the grains come in different sizes: fine; medium; coarse; and very coarse. Keep this in mind, as the ultimate texture, as well as the cooking time, will depend on the size of your grains. Best to check and follow packaging instructions.
But obviously, the rule of thumb is the finer the grain, the shorter the cooking time.
Grain size will also make the choice of bulgur important, depending on the dish you want to use it for:
Fine bulgur will be more suitable for dishes like tabbouleh;
Medium bulgur works great for preparing veggie burgers, patties, kofte, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), and porridge.
Coarse and very coarse bulgur are the most suitable for pilaf dishes, grain salads, for stuffing vegetables (like squash), soups and stews, or meatballs.
Another important point to keep in mind, is the difference between bulgur and cracked wheat, as the two are often confused. While they are similar, cracked wheat (for example what is used in India in various dishes and known as dalia) is completely raw while bulgur is precooked and has a much shorter prep time.
Dalia (or Daliya) in India is also known by samba rava, godhuma rava, fada, or broken wheat, and it's considered as a good choice for those trying to reduce refined grains. In Indian cuisine it is used to make khichdi, pulao (same root as pilaf), upma, pongal and porridge.
But back to our dish today.
I used a very coarse bulgur, as I really like for bulgur to have a bite and chewiness.
Loaded it with fresh herbs, a mix of raw and cooked vegetables, chopped dried fruits and nuts, spices and an olive-lemon vinaigrette for the right balance of earthiness and zing.
Ingredients (for 2 as a main, or 4 as part of a mezze meal)
1 cup uncooked bulgur
1.2 cup water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 sprigs of spring onions, finely minced
A large handful of parsley, finely chopped
A handful of dill, coarsely chopped
5-6 radishes, sliced thinly
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green fava (broad beans)
A handful of dried apricots, sliced thinly
A handful of walnuts, chopped coarsely
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp sumac
Optionally: chopped boiled eggs, or crumbled feta
Add the bulgur and water to a pot and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and let it simmer until the bulgur is cooked but still chewy, and all the water is absorbed.
In the meantime, prepare all the herbs, veggies and dried fruits/nuts as indicated in the ingredients. Keep them aside.
Make a vinaigrette with the olive oil and lemon, by whisking then energetically with a fork to form an emulsion.
Transfer the bulgur to a wide plate or bowl, drizzle some olive oil and mix with a fork to separate the grains and let the steam escape.
In another small pot, cook the fava beans in boiling water for 2-3 minutes (fresh will take slightly longer than frozen as the latter are pre-cooked), then drain and add to the bulgur.
When the bulgur and fava have cooled down, add in all other prepped ingredients and mix well. Add the chopped boiled egg and/or crumbled feta, if using.
You can serve this salad immediately, or keep it in the fridge for 30 minutes (or longer) to let the flavour develop.