I really love experimenting with different grains, often serving them very simply (so as to become familiar with their flavors and textures) as a side with dinner, but now I'm moving on to more grain-based salads and bulgur was one I hadn't yet tried in salad form. I do know it's used in many Middle Eastern dishes like tabbouleh, often substituted for rice or couscous and even served as porridge. It has a slight nutty flavor and I prefer it to quinoa (which I just can't seem warm up to, sorry about that), although bulgur IS wheat, which I know a lot of you are avoiding now.
The latest issue of Fine Cooking featured a dish with bulgur and lots of intriguing flavors. I loved that it can double as a side OR a salad. It'll travel beautifully, so you could take this along on a picnic. The flavors are marvelous....the tangy sweet of the apricots, the crunch of the pistachios and those herbs! Yum. The mixture of herbs adds so much freshness to the salad; hopefully, you'll have some available in your herb garden this summer.
Bulgur Salad with Herbs, Apricots and Pistachios
Adapted slightly from Fine Cooking Magazine, June/July Issue
2 cups bulgur
2/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
Generous 1/2 cup roughly chopped apricots
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
generous 1/2 cup chopped, roasted, salted pistachios
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet, toast the bulgur over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until darker in color and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Remove to a bowl.
Bring 2 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the skillet and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until softened. Remove from heat, stir in the bulgur, apricots and 2 cups boiling water. Stir. Cover and let stand for 30-40 minutes until all the fluid has been absorbed. Gently stir in the parsley, mint, cilantro and pistachios. Add salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining cup of olive oil into the lemon juice. Pour over the salad, correct the seasonings if necessary, and serve. Makes about 7 cups.