I often make bulgur, the cracked wheat so popular in Turkey, alongside dinner. It works well with most of the food that I cook and is both more flavourful and nutritious than rice. And it’s even easier to make – it rarely sticks.
This also means I often have leftover bulgur. Often not enough to be reheated for another dinner. Ever had that problem?
Good thing cooked bulgur is a perfect base for a salad.
For this one, I simply roast an aubergine and a few tomatoes until the flavour has concentrated and the veggies gone a comfortable soft. A few walnuts add som crunch, a bit of parsley some colour and freshness. And then, the world’s best dressing to bind it: a simple sweet and sour dressing made from pomegranate juice with a hint of cinnamon. Happiness in a bowl!
Bulgur is made from durum wheat which has been boiled, dried and crushed. There are two basic varities: coarse and fine. Coarse bulgur (pilavlik in Turkish) is roughly the size of a rice grain and is often a good substitute for both rice and couscous. Fine bulgur (köftelik in Turkish) is much finer and is used for kibbeh and içli köfte, the deep fried stuffed bulgur wheat balls so popular in Lebanon and Turkey, and finer salads such as tabbouleh. For this salad I use coarse bulgur but if it’s hard to find where you live a large-ish variety of couscous would also work well.
The pomegranate molasses is crucial for the flavour of this salad. It gives the salad a delicious sweet and sour taste that works really well with the bulgur and roasted vegetables. Always check the ingredient list when buying pomegranate molasses and buy the best one you can afford. Ideally it should be 100% pomegranate juice, but be aware that most commercial varieties add sugar and artificial flavourings – and many are in fact artificially flavoured liquid sugar. The better your pomegranate molasses, the better this salad will be. And if you can’t get hold of it at all, you could try a mixture of honey and lemon juice for a slightly different but also delicious effect. In that case I would leave out the cinnamon.
This bulgur salad is delicious on its own for lunch, perhaps with some bread and a green salad on the side. It’s also delicious as a main meal, on its own or with a simply prepared chicken. Or you can serve it alongside a few other dishes as part of a bigger meal. Serves one (greedily) for lunch, two as a side with chicken and green salad.
- 200 g cooked coarse bulgur or 75 g uncooked coarse bulgur
- 1 aubergine (c. 250 g), cut into 3 cm dice
- 2-4 tomatoes (c. 250 g), cut into four wedges (halve if using cherry tomatoes, in which case you’ll need quite a lot more than 4)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 15 walnut halves, roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a little salt with a mortar and pestle
- 1 tbsp pomegranate syrup (the best quality you can afford)
- pinch (1/8 tsp) ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 200 C.
- If your bulgur isn’t cooked, melt a little butter in a pot. Add the 75 g bulgur and stir until covered with fat. Add 150 ml light stock or water and season. If using water, add a bay leaf, if you have it. Put the lid on and bring to the boil. Turn down to the lowest setting and leave to simmer for 10-12 minutes. Take off the heat and leave until the bulgur as reached room temperature. Stir with a fork and season more if necessary. Remove the bay leaf, if using.
- Spread the aubergine and tomatoes on separate sides of a large oven tray. Gently with the olive oil (regular is fine) and some seasoning. Roats until the aubergine is soft and slightly coloured, 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to come to room temperature.
- Make the dressing by crushing the 1/2 garlic clove with a little salt in a mortar and pestle. Whisk in pomegranate molasses and cinnamon, then add the extra virgin olive oil bit by bit.
- Gently mix the bulgur, aubergine, tomatoes, walnuts and parsley in a bowl. Carefully mix in the dressing.