Warm Bulgur & Lentil Salad with Herbs
“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons", said American journalist Jim Bishop - and that's so true.
Ancient cultures, science, and astrology have associated many aspects of this beautiful season to human life. These symbolic associations are powerful reminders that Mother Nature has an incredible influence on our lives.
The autumnal equinox falls tomorrow, 22 September and, for us in the Northern hemisphere it marks the beginning of autumn, a season of change, preservation, but also letting go - a time to think about the temporary nature of everything around us.
I am personally looking forward to diving into my ever-growing list of seasonal recipes, featuring some of my favourite ingredients such as fennel, squash, mushrooms, turnips, cauliflower and many more.
This is one of my all time favourite recipes, and one I make quite often. I love a good warm salad (and who doesn't?) and this is one that packs a lot of flavour, while being comforting and refreshing at the same time.
Bulgur - or as we call it in Italian, "grano spezzato" (lit. broken wheat) - is one of my favourite grains. Very versatile, and a great alternative to our staple pasta with its higher content of fibre. When it is processed, the grains are separated into four different sizes: fine bulgur; medium grind; coarse; and very coarse grind. Bulgur is a versatile ingredient that is paired with many ingredients for sweet and savoury dishes.
Brown lentils, with their tiny, lens shape, are a prized staple of a Mediterranean diet. High in protein and a good source of vitamin A, calcium and iron – they're a natural fit for healthy living, and what we commonly eat in Italy.
I love to add loads of fresh herbs to this salad - usually a mix of dill, parsley, mint and spring onions - along with nuts and dried fruit like sultanas, chopped walnuts, pine nuts or chestnuts.
Finally, I season with an olive oil and lemon vinaigrette, which gives a nice zing to it.
Ingredients (for 2)
1 cup coarse bulgur
1/3 cup brown lentils
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tbsp
The juice of 1 lemon
2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
A handful of fresh dill, chopped
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
A handful of fresh mint, chopped
1 spring onion, chopped
2 tbsp sultanas
1 tbsp chopped walnuts and/or toasted pine nuts
Salt to taste
Mix bulgur and lentils and add to a large pot, or pressure cooker. I cook mine in my slow cooker using the pressure cook function, but you can also prepare this in a regular pot, it'll just take a little longer.
Cover with the stock, season with salt, cumin, pepper and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Cover and cook until all the water has evaporated. If using a pressure cooker, cook for 20 minutes, then release all the steam. Spread the bulgur and lentils on a wide tray to let the steam escape and cool down a bit. It should still be slightly warm when you mix it.
In the meantime, make a vinaigrette by mixing the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice and a pinch of salt and whisking until well combined. Set aside.
Transfer the bulgur and lentils to a big bowl, then add the vinaigrette, the chopped herbs, sultanas and nuts. Check the salt and add more if needed.
Serve warm of cold. Buon appetito!