Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bulgur Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts

Happy Earth Day! If you're feeling motivated to do something good for our planet, try adding a few vegetarian meals to your repertoire. The livestock industry is responsible for a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions and by swapping out a few meat-heavy meals for some delicious vegetarian options, we can do our bodies and the planet some good.

Although I've created a lot of main-course salad recipes, both vegetarian and with meat, I've never explored green salads with a grain as one of the main components. I bought a bag of bulgur specifically for Pinto Bean and Bulgur Burgers and because I hate to waste and am perpetually on the search for new recipes, I went on a search that led me to this wonderful salad.  Bulgur is the perfect whole grain for busy people because its preparation requires only an unattended soak in hot water. While the bulgur soaks you'll have plenty of time to prepare all the other components and probably even get the kitchen cleaned up. The chewy bulgur is the perfect textural contrast to crunchy lettuce and red onion, with the savory pine nuts and feta cheese making it satisfying enough for a main course. If you're one of the unlucky few to suffer from pine mouth or just don't care for pine nuts (or their expense), walnuts would make a lovely substitution. A complete meal on one plate, this salad is a fabulous way to eat vegetarian, a lovely meal to linger over on a beautiful spring day.

Bulgur Salad with Feta and Pine Nuts
from Martha Stewart
serves 1

1/4 cup medium-grind bulgur
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (1 ounce)
1/2 shallot, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded, and finely diced
1/2 head Boston lettuce, torn into large pieces

1. In a medium bowl, mix bulgur with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup boiling water. Cover; let sit until bulgur is tender (but still slightly chewy), about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small dry skillet over very low heat, toast pine nuts, tossing constantly, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

3. Drain bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to remove excess liquid; return to bowl. Add feta, shallot, parsley, cucumber, and 1/2 the dressing; season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, toss lettuce with remaining dressing. Top with bulgur mixture and pine nuts.

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