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I’m a massive advocate of fruity, nutty, Middle Eastern-style grain salads like this delicious Syrian Bulgur Wheat Salad, but it is not often I find a recipe for one that is complex, satisfying (so many of them have flavour notes missing that make them a little disappointing), and most importantly easy to make, but when we were cooking a Mediterranean / Middle Eastern-inspired outdoor spread for a family reunion a few weeks ago, I found this recipe that I could not wait to share with you (seriously, I’ve been waiting: these pictures were taken at my parents house as my photography space is currently shaded by scaffolding from our conservatory!) that is an instant keeper.
Adapted from Jewish food guardian angel Claudia Roden’s new book Med: A Cookbook(ad), the moment I tasted this rich bulgur salad, tossed in a rich, tangy spiced tomato and pomegranate molasses, studded with a riot of toasted nuts, fresh parsley and pomegranate seeds I was sold.
Just a bit of tinkering from me was needed to cut down the proportions to feed a couple rather than to feed a crowd (I did also reduce the dressing slightly to make it a little less saucy: I don’t think the bulgur you buy in British supermarkets absorbs as well) and to ditch the pistachios (both hazelnuts and pistachios are pricy nuts, and I could only taste the former in the finished dish, not the latter) but the below recipe is, I think, the make-ahead lunch or barbecue side dish you’re going to be craving all summer long.
This simple Syrian Bulgur Wheat Salad is packed with toasted nuts, crunchy pomegranate seeds and a tangy, tomato and pomegranate molasses dressing for the perfect make-ahead salad for lunchboxes and summer gatherings.
125g (4 1/2 oz) dried bulgur wheat
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp harissa paste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
pinch ground allspice
juice of 1/2 lemon
50g (1 3/4 oz) walnut pieces
50g (1 3/4 oz) blanched hazelnuts
large handful pine nuts
very large handful pomegranate seeds
small handful flat leaf parsley
Boil the kettle and pour 200ml (7 fl oz) of water over the bulgur wheat. Leave, uncovered to stand for 30 minutes, fluffing up occasionally with a fork to make sure the water absorbs evenly.
Meanwhile, make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, tomato puree, pomegranate molasses, harissa paste, spices and lemon juice. Set aside.
In a frying pan set over a medium high heat, toast the walnuts and hazelnuts until the hazelnuts have turned golden in as many patches as possible, but have not burned. Remove from the pan and the moment they’re cool enough to touch, roughly chop.
Add the pine nuts to the pan, and toast these until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Use the remaining time whilst the bulgur soaks to roughly chop the parsley and prepare the pomegranate seeds.
To serve, stir the dressing and the chopped nuts into the bulgur wheat, seasoning to taste with sea salt.
Spoon into a large serving dish, and scatter with the pine nuts, parsley and pomegranate seeds.
The above proportions serve 2 for lunch or 4 as a side dish, and it can easily be doubled to feed a crowd.
If you’d like to make this a day ahead, stir just the dressing into the bulgur and sit the chopped nuts on top. Stir them into the salad and bring it up to room temperature before finishing with the pine nuts, parsley and pomegranate.
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