At Your Fingertips – A Mediterranean Salad

Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Mediterranean Salad with Bulgur, Feta and Pistachios

What’s on the top shelf of your refrigerator?  If you’re my height, it’s a black hole, rarely explored.  Recently, hunger for a salad heartier than tossed greens motivated me to grab a stool and reach into that black hole.  Buried in the back corner of the fridge was my ticket to dinner – a bag with about a cup of bulgur wheat, enough for a satisfying side dish. On the deck a few steps away was a pot overflowing with fresh mint.  More exploring turned up ingredients for a low-labor Mediterranean salad finished with feta and pistachios.

What is Bulgur?
The Wheat Foods Council  defines bulgur as “whole wheat kernels that have been soaked, boiled, dried. Five percent of the bran is removed and the remaining kernel is cracked into small pieces. Bulgur differs from cracked wheat in that is has been precooked.”  Bulgur varies  in coarseness and color, so you will see different hydration instructions on the label or posted over bulk bins.   Middle Eastern stores carry a selection of bulgur ranging from #1 to #4, indicating the degree of  coarseness, but mainstream markets generally carry only one type.  The hydration method described in the following recipe works with the medium-sized bulgur I’ve found to be the most widely available.

The Beauty of Bulgur
Bulgur is a quick- to-prepare, nutrient-rich whole grain form of wheat with twice the fiber of brown rice. It is economical and very versatile in the kitchen – wonderful in pilafs, stuffings, salads and more. Cuisines of the Middle East  have many creative ways of using bulgur.  Follow this link to more bulgur information and recipes I created for the Washington State Dairy Council, including using bulgur as a meat extender, salad and breakfast cereal.

Mediterranean  Salad with Bulgur, Feta and Pistachios

 1 cup bulgur
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 to 3  tablespoons lemon juice
2 to 3  tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup grape tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped yellow or orange bell pepper
3/4 cup crumbled light or regular feta cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion or chopped red onion
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup roasted pistachios

Combine bulgur and water in small saucepan.  Cover and bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes to soften.  If liquid remains, drain bulgur and discard excess water.  Turn bulgur into medium bowl and stir lemon juice, olive oil and salt.  Add tomatoes, bell pepper, cheese, onion and mint.  Toss gently.  Top with pistachios.  Makes about 6 cups.

Copyright © Lorelle S Del Matto 2011

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

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