Ever had/eaten bulgur wheat? If the answer is no then I’ll ask again…have you ever eaten Tabbouleh Salad? Ahhh, now I see lots of hands up in the air! Bulgur wheat is found in cuisines around the Middle East and it’s also found in Greek cooking. Bulgur is a grain that is soaked in boiling water then dried in the sun (or slow-baked in the oven). After, the bulgur wheat are milled and then sorted according to size (that’s why you find different types/sizes of bulgur wheat at the market).
Bulgur wheat is made this way as the hot water helps to gelatinize the granules and kill any germs or larvae. After the drying process, the wheat is sprayed with water to make removing of the outer bran layer easier. In the old days, this was done by hand but now machine has replaced this monotonous task. The peeled grains are spread out to dry again in the sun and then ground and sorted into different sizes. *
Since there are varying sizes of Bulgur wheat, the time needed to rehydrate bulgur also varies. Sizes of bulgur vary from fine, medium to coarse, it must be soaked in water to a ratio of 2:1 (water to bulgur). You know how everyone’s telling you to eat oatmeal in the morning for breakfast? Well, bulgur wheat is also wonderful for keeping you regular, it fights heart disease and cancer as it’s a rich source of fibre. Bulgur wheat is also rich in iron, great as a side dish (or a salad as show here) and you can use it (bulgur) in place of where rice was in your diet.
Bulgur wheat has a nutty taste to it and the possibilities are endless with what ingredients you can pair it with. You can soak it/rehydrate it then toss it with vegetables to make a salad or rinse it under cold water then made a bulgur pilaf with it. Today, we’re making a bulgur salad – something easy, delicious and healthy. There’s alot of ingredients here but this is one of those “thrown everything in the bowl” recipe that’s really a no-brainer.
We have bulgur wheat, lots of vegetables, extra-virgin Greek olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, some allspice to give you a warm bottom-end on the flavour spectrum and I’ve added a roasted red pepper puree that’s just been released from my friend, Christine Cushing. This jar contains charred red peppers when are then peeled but still retain all that smokey goodness that comes from blackening the skins over hot charcoal or gas grill. The peppers are then pureed (but still some chunks evident) and there’s olive oil, some wine and a splash of vinegar that doesn’t interfere the red pepper’s natural sweetness.
This Bulgur Salad is a great offering to a pot-luck or a picnic, a side or salad dish. It’s fruity with the Greek olive oil, hint of smoke with the allspice and red pepper puree and bright with a good squeeze of lemon juice. I’ll be eating alot of bulgur salad this year!
Bulgur Salad (Σαλάτα με πλιγούρι)
1 cup medium or coarse bulgur wheat
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice + 1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2/3 cup of ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup of zucchini, diced
1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp. of roasted red pepper puree
1/2 tsp. of ground allspice
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
- Place your bulghur wheat in a bowl and add two cups of water from your tap and let stand for about 60-90 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the bulghur is just al dente ( the bulghur will absorb more moisture from the vegetables and other ingredients). Strain the water and gently rinse – allow the water to drain thoroughly.
- Empty your bulghur back into a bowl and add the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, balsamic, vegetables, red pepper puree and toss thoroughly. Add half of the allspice, some salt and pepper the chopped parsley and toss to mix well, then taste and adjust with some allspice ( or both), salt and pepper or more lemon or balsamic.
- Cover, place in the fridge for at least 3 hours for the flavours to marry. Serve cool or room temperature as a side or salad, grate some dry Mizithra cheese on top (or not if fasting or during Lent).
* Info on how bulgur wheat is made sourced from Diane Kochilas’ The Greek Vegetarian.
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