“Thou art to me a delicious torment.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson did not have bulgur on his mind when he penned those words, but I like to imagine my friend Lindsey did when she emailed on Friday with a plea for the recipe of my favorite bulgur salad. I’ve made said salad for her on two other occasions and was happy to oblige, especially since it gave me another (delicious) excuse to whip up a batch and go vegetarian this week.
Forgive me for boasting, but this salad deserves top honors for its tremendous flavor and overall appeal. It’s chock full of good things, from oranges, to herbs, to cashews. It gets better and better with each passing day (as the flavors continue to meld), and because it is loaded with a hefty amount of protein, fresh fruit, whole grain, and fiber, it can be eaten as a filling main dish.
The recipe is not new (hence my willingness to brag); my mother has been making it for years. My adaptation, though, is a bit lighter in fat and calories, and heavier in flavor. The original appeared in a gorgeous mid-1980s era cookbook, Gourmet’s Menus for Contemporary Living (I have a copy, too, it’s worth picking up; I see there are several used ones on amazon.com for a penny–that’s my kind of deal). It pleases me to no end that friends of all eating stripes are now loving it, too (even hardcore meat lovers), because it is one of my mother’s quintessential recipes. It never gets old to me; one forkful sends shivers of nostalgia down my spine.
My version is a tweak, not an overhaul; I’ve kept all of the fundamental flavors and textures. First, I cut the total amount of olive oil (the original had 1 whole cup; it just doesn’t need that much). Next, I increased the quantities of the ground spices and fresh herbs. Finally, I streamlined the bulgur preparation. With regard to the last element, the original called for covering the bulgur with enough water to cover by an inch, then some messy draining and squeezing. Who needs a fussy step when it’s not needed? I changed it to a no-nonsense step, one that’s right on the bulgur bag: soak the bulgur in an equal amount of cold water. That’s it! It absorbs all the water, and no additional squeezing is required.
Enjoy, I know you will love it!
Bulgur Nutrition Notes:Bulgur is another one of those nutritional superstars–thank heavens it’s so versatile and delicious (and inexpensive, too). A one-cup prepared serving has 6 grams of fiber and 33% of a day’s supply of fiber. It even out-stars brown rice–compare and see:
1 cup of prepared bulgur
0.44 grams fat
8.2 grams fiber
32.8 micrograms folate
1 cup cooked brown rice
1.8 grams fat
3.2 grams fiber
7.8 micrograms folate
Look for bulgur in bags in the healthy food section of the supermarket (it’s commonly available) or at natural food store (both in bags and in bulk).
Bulgur Salad with Oranges, Cashews & Fresh Herbs
I typically use Bob’s Red Mill Light Bulgur, but you can use most any variety.
1 and 1/2 cups medium or coarse bulgur
1 and 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh grated orange zest
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup raisins
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 15-ounce can mandarin oranges packed in juice, drained
1/3 cup roasted, lightly salted cashew pieces (use raw cashews for raw recipe)
In a bowl combine bulgur and water. Let bulgur soak, uncovered, until softened, 20 to 25 minutes.
In a large bowl whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, honey, cumin, mustard, orange zest, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and oil until emulsified; season with additional salt & pepper to taste. Drain bulgur in a sieve and press out any excess water. Add bulgur, raisins, green onions, mint, cilantro, and oranges to dressing and toss well. Chill until ready to serve. Just before serving, stir in cashews. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition per serving (about 1 cup salad):Calories 213; Fat 6.7g (poly 2.3g, mono 1.5g, sat og); Protein 7.5g; Cholesterol 0.0mg; Carbohydrate 28.6g; Sodium 168mg; Fiber 9.2g)
(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)