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Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Caramelized Onion, Feta and Tarragon

Posted Jun 20 2013 6:00am
As much as I love the two beautiful Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks I own, my spontaneous (read procrastinating, fly-by-the-seat-of my-pants) style of shopping and menu planning has me frequently turning to the Ottolenghi iPhone app to choose a recipe usually as I sit in the grocery store parking lot. Best $4.99 I have spent in a while. ;-) This Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Caramelized Onion, Feta and Tarragon is my latest app recipe find. I love a good grain salad to pull out of the fridge for a quick meat-free meal and of course I loves me some caramelized onions and feta. The fresh tarragon in the mix intrigued me, and you can't beat bulgur for fast and easy grain cooking.

I made a few changes and additions to the recipe--like extra lemon juice and onions. On the recipe overview, Ottolenghi suggests adding other elements such as cooked chickpeas, currants, semi-dried tomatoes or roasted sweet potato cubes. I went with the chickpeas and then tossed in some home-dried blueberries (I'm not a huge current fan and blueberries are more fun than raisins) and added roasted pistachios for color and crunch. My changes to the recipe are in red below.

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Caramelized Onion, Feta and Tarragon 
Adapted from the Yotam Ottolenghi (iPhone Recipe App)
(Serves 4-6)

1 3/4 cups bulgur wheat
1/2 cup olive oil
3 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions (I used about 5 cups)
2 tsp ground cumin
juice of 1 large lemon (I used the juice of two lemons)
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup loosely-packed chopped tarragon
3 1/2 oz feta, broken into chunks
salt and black pepper
(added 1 can low-sodium chickpeas)
(added 1/3 cup dried blueberries)
(added 1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts, roasted and coarsely chopped)

Place bulgur wheat in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 15-20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cumin and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until dark golden. (Note: I found that it took about 25 minutes to get them truly dark golden.) Transfer onto paper towels to drain.

Drain the bulgur in a sieve and shake very well to get rid of the water. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the cooked onion and remaining ingredients, along with salt and black pepper to taste. Mix. Gently stir in the feta so it doesn't break up too much. Then serve.

Notes/Results: I like this salad--the different tastes and textures mix well. You can't argue with caramelized onions and feta for pumping up a salad, but I think my favorite bites were the ones with tarragon or the dried blueberries that I added. The sweetness of the berries and the sharper, anise taste of the tarragon add interest. I definitely welcomed the extra lemon--it didn't overpower but gave it the brightness and balance the salad needed. Adding the chickpeas and pistachios to the satisfying bulgur made this into a main dish salad for me. Great with bread for a light dinner and as the flavors melded, the leftovers were even better the next couple of days for lunch. I would make it again. 

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs. The time to make any Yotam Ottolenghi recipe or any recipe from one of the previous 7 IHCC chefs. I like to spread the love so in addition to this Ottolenghi grain salad, I'll be cooking up a Tessa Kiros (one of my very favorite IHCC past chefs) soup that I have been eyeballing in her new cookbook this weekend. You can see what everyone made for Potluck by following the links at the post.

I did my first guest post this week over at girlichef for Heather's The Summer of the Popsicle event. Stop by and check out the recipe for my sweet/tangy/herby (in a good way!) Parsley-Lemonade Ice Pops , inspired by a favorite restaurant's house lemonade.
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