Round about now I think is a good time to talk about Winter salads. Less of the lettuce, more of the Winter greens. Cooked elements, something that can be served warm, at room temperature or cold. Something with not many ingredients, that can be made from fridge leftovers and can be made in a double portion on a lazy Sunday afternoon to enjoy at your desk when you start to feel the Monday office slump. Use these directions to make Bulgar Wheat with Kale and Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes as a blueprint to make a big, comforting and nourishing bowl of whatever grains, greens and roasted vegetables you fancy.
I'm using bulgar at the moment as I have a bag on the go from one of the salads I presented as part of our Boxing Day spread, but couscous, giant Israeli couscous, pearl barley, nutty brown rice, quinoa, amaranth or buckwheat. You could switch out the kale for cavolo nero or chard leaves, and as far as the vegetables are concerned, any roasted vegetable like carrots, squash or cauliflower would be great, or blanched and still crunchy asparagus or purple sprouting tender stem broccoli. I've used extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dress my salad along with a refreshing spritz of fresh lemon, as they are what I slow roasted my tomatoes in. However, if you've gone for root vegetables which I like to roast in cold pressed rapeseed oil, I'd use that in my grains instead. The key is to taste as you season, adding everything slowly - you can always add more of something, but it is harder to fix something you've over seasoned.
My measurements here make two bowls (if you're serving this up at the table, I'd serve it with a lemon wedge each so everyone can add a bit more freshness to their own portion), one for now and one for later, but it is easily halved or doubled. Packing things up for work tomorrow, if you're on a January health kick, grab a banana or a clementine to finish things off. However, if you're like me and ignoring the whole clean January thing, you can't go wrong with a good M&M Cookie. Nothing wrong at all.
- 250g (9 oz) Pack Cherry Tomatoes
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Freshly Ground Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- 120g (4 oz) Bulgar Wheat
- 4 Handfuls Chopped Curly Kale
- Fresh Lemon Juice
Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees (375 fahrenheit). Half the cherry tomatoes and place cut side up on a baking tray. Drizzle each with a little vinegar and a little oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Slow roast for an hour and a half. If you don't want to waste the oven being on slow and low for so long, feel free to roast extra to pile onto your breakfast avocado toast.
If you are planning on eating your salad cold, you can use some of this time to prepare your kale and bulgur wheat. However, if you want to enjoy this warm, go and enjoy your book with a mug of tea. To cook the bulgar wheat, bring a pan of salted water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer to cook the wheat for 20 minutes. I know the packet says to measure out the water and let it all absorb, but I find this makes for really sticky, glutinous bulgar. If you are letting it cool down, rinse it through under the tap to rinse off any extra starch, which will stop it sticking together.
To prepare the kale, if you've got it from the supermarket, they'll have chopped the stems into the kale. These are touch, so I like to remove these from my kale before boiling a kettle, pouring boiling water over the kale in a bowl or saucepan, and allowing to sit and blanch (not on the heat) for 2-3 minutes. You'll want to squeeze all of the water out of the kale before adding it to your salad.
Once the tomatoes are roasted, mix them into the bulgar, making sure you don't leave any of the juices behind; these make up part of the dressing. Fold in the kale, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add dashes of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and squeezes of fresh lemon juice to taste.
Elsewhere in the make now, and enjoy a portion later Winter salad department, may I please point you in the direction of my Giant (Israeli) Couscous with Pomegranate & Pistachios, Crunchy Winter Salad with Honey Vinaigrette (which is actually one of my favourite dressings to make for salads), and my twist on Yotam Ottolenghi's Asian Butter Bean Salad.