Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Roasted Peppers, and Feta

Ideally, I have a good supply of prepared and portioned cooked whole grains in my freezer at all times. In reality, this doesn't always happen, so I make sure to always have plenty of quick-cooking whole grains in my pantry like couscous, quinoa, and bulgur. Bulgur takes less than half an hour to cook and is an eager sponge for flavors, making it a perfect choice for quick lunch or dinner. Whole grains + veggies + beans + cheese is one of my favorite meal templates, and while it can accommodate any odds and ends you happen to have, this combination is delightful enough to be worth repeating. Bulgur is delightfully nutty, and the roasted peppers and salty feta complement it well. The parsley adds freshness, red onion a sharp accent, and the chickpeas substance, with a smoky, spicy vinaigrette blending it seamlessly together.

I can't complain about this recipe as written, but there is a certainly a world of variations to be explored. Don't have bulgur? Swap it out for quinoa or brown rice. Not a fan of chickpeas? Try black, pinto, or navy beans. Cilantro can stand in for parsley, goat cheese can replace feta...the list of substitutions goes on and on. Carnivores can add grilled meat (I especially recommend steak) and vegans can substitute extra beans for the cheese, making this recipe universal, even if trying to avoid meat, dairy, or gluten. I made this for one when making a quick lunch, but it can certainly be scaled up to feed a crowd.

Whether prepared verbatim, or merely used as inspiration, this is the kind of recipe that every busy person should keep in their back pocket.

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Roasted Peppers, and Feta
adapted from Epicurious
serves 1

3/4 cup prepared bulgur (from 1/4 cup uncooked)
1/4 cup chickpeas
1/4 cup roasted red and/or yellow peppers
2 tablespoons chopped or thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped parley
2 tablespoons/0.5 ounce crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine bulgur, chickpeas, roasted peppers, red onion, parsley, and feta cheese in a bowl and toss to combine. 

2. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, honey, cumin, cayenne, together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Add dressing to salad and stir gently. Serve at room temperature or cold.

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