Friday, August 28, 2015

Bulgur Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Have you ever had bulgur wheat before? It's cracked, dried wheat, and it's really quite delicious. Bulgur wasn't something we grew up eating in my Swedish mother's kitchen. But when I married my hunky hubby (he would absolutely die if he knew I referred to him as that, by the way), I acquired a fabulous mother-in-law who's half Lebanese. She introduced me to the tantalizing flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine.

One of her (many!) specialties is Tabouleh, which features bulgur, parsley, and lemon. It's refreshing, healthy, and ridiculously delicious. I didn't have the inclination to chop up a bunch of parsley, so I decided to create another tasty side dish featuring this too-often-overlooked grain.

Bulgur is simple to prepare; it just needs a soak in some boiling water. So it can do its thing on the stove while you take care of the laundry situation lurking upstairs. (Or maybe it's just me who needs to deal with said situation.) And if it steams longer than 20 minutes? Eh. That's fine. I'm a fan of food that doesn't require constant babysitting. I've got a kid for that.

Speaking of kids...if yours are a bit weary of this new grain on the dinner table, you can tell them it tastes like couscous. I may or may not have convinced my toddler to eat a bowl by telling him it was couscous. (They're both made of wheat, so it didn't feel like an egregious lie, but I'm still having guilt about it, thank-you-very-much. Also, please note that my boy absolutely did NOT eat this salad...he prefers his bulgur—and everything—plain. Sigh.)

On that note...

Let's get cooking!

Bulgar Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumbers
Serves: 6-8 (as a side dish)
Inspired by Tabouleh and Amy's Tomato Avocado Quinoa Salad

1 cup water
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (or substitute water)
1 cup bulgur
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thin cucumber slices, quartered
1 cup quartered grape (or cherry) tomatoes
Salt and pepper

In a saucepan, bring water and broth to a boil. Stir in bulgur. Cover and allow bulgur to steam for about 20 minutes. Pretty much all of the liquid should be absorbed, but if there's a lot left, drain it off. Fluff bulgur with a fork. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once bulgur has cooled, stir in lemon juice, olive oil, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or cool.


  1. I like the idea of the cucumbers in your version. I'm thinking I might have to try this one and maybe throw in some dill. Being half Armenian, we ate a lot of bulgur growing up, often used like rice for pilaf, but I didn't care for it that way, unless it was alongside a pork chop and I had some apple sauce to mix in with it. I always thought it was too dry that way, but maybe that was more about the way my Mom made/liked it than if I actually tried it myself. I still haven't gotten around to it. If you like Tabouli, there's another (red) version we make, called Eetch (or Itch). I have seen a lot of versions that include pomegranate molasses, and require cooking the bulgur, but not the one we make. Peppers, onions, parsley, scallions, lemon juice, cayenne, bulgur, with or without oil ... mixed with tomato sauce and refrigerated for several hours until absorbed. I don't think I have ever made/brought that somewhere without at least one person asking for the recipe. I've made it with quinoa too - softer texture (you do have to cook the quinoa), but most people didn't even notice. Addictive with pita chips. :)

    1. That sounds good, Chris! And pretty simple. That is key for me...delicious and simple. :-)