September 14, 2016

Start to finish: 25 minutes
Hands on time: 20 minutes

Looking for a quick and easy side to go with simply grilled chicken or fish? This healthy salad of cracked wheat, herbs and summer fresh produce is just what the dinner doctor ordered.

I couldn’t resist offering up a recipe from my new book One Pan Two Plates Vegetarian Suppers which was released last month. It’s the meatless little sis to my 2013 release One Pan Two Plates: More than 70 complete weeknight meals for two which features mostly meat in the center of the plate. My husband and I are not vegetarians, however, we enjoyed dining on the lighter side and have embraced eating meatless meals a few nights a week. Especially when they are as full of flavor as the 70 plus dishes in my new book.

Loads of fresh herbs and wholesome grains make this light and easy salad so appealing. If you’re not familiar with bulgur, it’s a toasted cracked wheat that plumps up in hot water in a matter of minutes, which makes this salad perfect for a last minute dinner or a delicious side. I’ve included the traditional trimmings of cucumber, radish, tomatoes and green onion along with lots of fresh parsley, mint, lemon and olive oil. When serving this salad as a stand-alone meal I sometimes toss in roasted or grilled red bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant or summer squash to add heft. Or serve with pita bread and store bought hummus. There’s so many ways to turn this salad into dinner. I think the next time  I’m going to make pita sandwiches with hummus, grilled chicken strips and tabbouleh stuffed inside. It doesn’t get much fresher, easier or more delish than that.

It’s that easy: The best way to flavor the bulgur is to salt the water liberally. That way the grain absorbs flavored water instead of plain water and the flavor actually penetrates the grain instead of just laying on top of it.

1 1/4 cups [300 ml] water
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup [150 g] bulgur (cracked wheat)
1/3 cup [10 g] finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup [7 g] finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup [140 g] cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a 3 qt [2.8 L] saucepan, bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tsp salt to the boiling water and pour in the bulgur. Stir and cover off heat for 15 minutes to allow the grain to soften.

In a large bowl, combine, parsley, mint, green onions, tomatoes, radish, cucumber, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Add bulgur and toss together. Taste and season with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper if it needs it.

Serve mounded onto two plates.

Extra hungry? Toss a few ounces of feta cheese into the salad for a little protein punch.

In the glass: Look for a fairly dry white or rosé. We had a rosé from Tavel, my favorite summer quaff.

In my ears: Chain of Fools


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