Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bulgur Salad with Pistachios and Currants

Bulgur has a zillion uses in Armenian cuisine. In our home, bulgur, in its varying sizes, is combined with any number of ingredients to create many a tasty dish. The list of add-ins included, but is not limited to, such items as vegetables, tomato sauce, chickpeas, raw onions, caramelized onions … you name it. I could on for several pages! 

Bulgur recipes can be served hot, cold or at room temperature making it a truly versatile ingredient and a MUST-HAVE in any Armenian pantry.

NOTE: I buy currants when they are readily available in the supermarket, and keep open packages, well-wrapped, in the freezer to help them last a long time.
Here’s my rendition of a bulgur salad that, I believe, even my grandparents would have enjoyed.

Bulgur Salad with Pistachios and Currants
Bulgur Salad with Pistachios and Currants
Serves 4
Note: This is best if made several hours or up to one day before serving.

1 cup #2 (medium) bulgur
¼ cup currants
¼ cup pistachios, shelled and toasted (* See steps #3 and 6)
½ to 1 tsp. allspice
2 Tbsp. dried mint, crushed
2 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsley

1 medium clove of garlic, minced
Zest of 1 lemon, optional
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 Tbsp.)
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place bulgur in a large bowl and cover it with cold water; soak for 15 to 20 minutes, until it becomes soft but not mushy. Drain any remaining liquid in a fine sieve, squeezing out any excess moisture. Return bulgur to the bowl.

2. To reconstitute the currants, place them in a separate bowl and cover with a little warm water for about 5 minutes. Drain well.

*3. To toast the pistachios, place them in a dry skillet and cook over medium-high heat,   shaking the pan often, until nuts become fragrant and lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place nuts on a plate to cool. Coarsely chop nuts and set aside until ready to use.

4. Add the drained currants, spices, dried mint, and parsley to the bulgur. Toss gently.

5. Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

*6. Pour dressing over bulgur mixture and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving the salad, add the toasted, chopped pistachios. This prevents the nuts from getting soggy before serving time.
The salad may be served at room temperature.

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