Bulgur and Lentil Salad with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts

Bulgur (also called bulgar, burghul, or bulghur) is a form of partially cooked cracked wheat most commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. This whole grain is an excellent source of fiber, easy to prepare, and serves as a great substitute for couscous or rice. In fact, in the recipe below you can use couscous, rice, or quinoa in place of the bulgur if you’d like, but bulgur adds a rich, nutty flavor that helps make the dish unique. To learn more about bulgur, click here.

Bulgur comes in different grade levels of coarseness. For this recipe, I recommend using grade 2 (medium), although grade 1 (fine) may also be used. The photos below show a grade 2 bulgur.

I’ve been experimenting with this creation for a while, adding a few things here and taking out some things there. It is a flexible recipe that allows for trying new things.

Makes about 8 cups

1 1/2 cups dry burghul
1 1/2 cups water (cold from the tap is just fine)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 cups water
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)

Dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

1. In a large mixing bowl, soak the bulgur in the 1 1/2 cups of water for about 40 minutes, until the burghul has completely absorbed the water. Since burghul is different from cracked wheat in that it is already cooked, it’s not necessary to cook it.

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The burghul will expand as it absorbs the water.

2. As the burghul is soaking, bring the lentils to a boil in the 2 cups of water, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until they are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside to allow to cool.

3. Roast the pine nuts in an ungreased pan over medium-high heat until they are golden brown. This usually takes about 10-12 minutes. Turn the nuts as they begin to turn brown and be careful- they go very quickly from golden to burned. As soon you achieve a medium golden-brown color, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

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Pine nuts are rich in flavor and toast quickly.

3. Gently fluff the bulgur with a fork to loosen it. Add the cooled lentils, dried apricots, raisins, onion, pine nuts, and cilantro. Combine together.

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Dried fruit adds a little sweetness to the salad. Chopped dates and dark raisins work well with this recipe also.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper to make the dressing.

5. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix gently until the dressing is well incorporated.

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The bits of cilantro help brighten up the salad.

Serve plain, as a side dish, or over a bed of spinach or lettuce.

Tip: If you have leftovers and the salad seems a bit dry the next day, you can add more dressing, a little at a time, by mixing equal parts olive oil and lemon juice.

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Enjoy! Please comment below and let me know how your salad turned out.

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