The secret of using bulgar in a salad, says author Sally Butcher, is to make sure there are plenty of other ingredients. “Thus, this is not bulgar salad with spinach, but spinach salad with bulgar.” This recipe from “The New Middle Eastern Cookbook,” from Interlink Books, is a sleeper. Which is not to say that it is boring. To the contrary, it serves up a big dose of flavor coming from lime juice, onion, crushed chiles and cumin. Fresh mint and cilantro give it added freshness and flavor.
Spinach, Apricot and Bulgar Salad
Generous 1/2 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped
Generous 1 1/3 cups bulgar (cracked wheat)
1 3/4 cups vegetable stock or water
1 1/4 cups apricot juice or apple juice
5 1/2 ounces fresh, thoroughly washed spinach
1 peeled carrot
1 smallish red onion
4 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice and the zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon crushed chiles (such as jap chiles) or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2/3 cup raw (unsalted) pistachio kernels (or almonds)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
Handful of fresh mint leaves, washed and chopped
Set apricots to soak in tepid water. Set your oven to 275 degrees. Spread bulgar over the bottom of an oven tray pan (cookie sheet with sides) and pour in the stock and juice, over the bulgar, and put the tray into the oven for about 20 minutes, fluffing bulgar with a fork halfway through.
In the meantime, rough-shred the spinach, coarse-grate the carrot and finely slice the onion. Whisk the oil, lime juice and zest, chiles and cumin together with some salt and pepper. Drain the apricots. Once the bulgar is cooked through, let it cool a little and then scoop it into a bowl and mix with all the other ingredients, adjusting the seasoning to taste. Great with flatbread and plain yogurt.
Makes 4 servings.
From “The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian” by Sally Butcher