Bulgur & Pomegranate “Crunch” Salad

October 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

Off all the vegetables I’m likely to swoon over, the watery celery stalk is dead last on the list (tied with tasteless green bell peppers).  I never buy, eat or really spend any time thinking about celery.  But I bit the bullet and bought a handful of celery stalks this past week for a recipe experiment.

Let me back up: I’ve been on the lookout for good pomegranate recipes (hang with me a second; celery plays a hand, I promise).  It’s pomegranate harvest time in the southwest and I have six pink poms sitting on my counter top.   While I love the little seeds just as much as the next person, there are only so many handfuls I can eat plain on top of my yogurt bowls.  After perusing a half-dozen recipes and finding little inspiration, I asked my mom for advice.  She voted for a bulgur salad, created by Heidi at 101 Cookbooks.  I admit, I was skeptical — none of the ingredients really “sent” me, save the toasted walnuts.  But I started fiddling:

I scaled back on the celery, threw in another quarter cup of walnuts, amped up the bulgur, swapped out the pom-juice for orange juice (I like a little citrus tang) and doubled the garlic quota.  I also tried scaling back on the olive oil as well as nixing it entirely — both were delicious although I preferred the texture with a spritz of oil.  In the end, I loved it.  While this salad throws a lot of different tastes together into the same dish, the texture is fantastic.  Each bite has a different “crunch” — a crispy-snap from the celery, a beefier bite from the walnuts, a sweet surprise from the pomegranates and a nutty chew from the bulgur.

Bulgur is a whole grain, high in fiber.  Bulgur purchased in grocery stores or bulk bins is often par-boiled and dried and sometimes part of the bran has been removed.  There are a few different methods of cooking bulgur.  Most commonly bulgur is steeped in boiling water for about an hour or simmered.  I’ve tried both and prefer the simmering method (the bulgur seems less crunchy); but feel free to dabble!

Ingredients:
1 + 2/3 cup bulgur, raw
2 cups celery, chopped on slight bias
seeds of 1 pomegranate (de-seeding tutorial)
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1/3 cup orange juice
2 cloves garlic
sea salt, pepper
1-2 tablespoons olive oil, optional

Method:

1.  Cook bulgur according to packaging instructions (either by steeping in boiling water or simmering with a pinch of sea salt).  Here are a few tips for some additional reading.

2.  Meanwhile, chop celery, de-seed pomegranate and chop parsley.  Set aside.  In an unseasoned skillet, toast walnuts on medium-heat until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes).

3.  Prepare dressing: Finely chop garlic.  Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on top and pound it with a back of a fork until it forms a paste.  Mix with OJ and, if using, 1-2 tablespoons olive oil.  Set aside.  When bulgur has finished cooking, pour dressing and allow it to soak.

4.  Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Best served at room temperature.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan


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