Bulgar and couscous salads

Cooking with Cathie

Cathie CampbellAugust 23, 2012 

It's the time of year when the weather has us thinking about salads and trying to keep our kitchens cool. Salads are popular summer fare and I have many favorites. I especially like salads that feature bulgur wheat and couscous.

Bulgur is a form of cracked wheat, but is often sold parboiled and dried. Couscous (pronounced coos-coos) is a pasta-like wheat product. They are very versatile ingredients that taste delicious. If you haven't tried them yet, please do consider adding them to your menu sometime soon. Look for them in the health-food section of most supermarkets.

A serving suggestion for the tabouleh salad is to pack some inside half of a pita bread round, with some cooked falafel (chick-peas, also known as garbanzo beans formed into small meatball shapes and cooked), some alfalfa sprouts and a bit of plain yogurt.


Tabouleh salad

I have been using this recipe for decades. I prefer a softer texture, so I cover the bulgur wheat with boiling water and let stand 1 hour.

  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1 1/2 cups snipped parsley
  • 3 medium tomatoes (the best you can find or grow), chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions, with tops
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
  • Whole ripe olives, optional
  1. Cover bulgur wheat with cold water; let stand 30 minutes. Drain and press out as much water as possible.
  2. Place wheat, parsley, tomatoes, green onions and mint in a glass or plastic bowl.
  3. Mix remaining ingredients; pour over bulgur mixture and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Garnish with whole ripe olives, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Citrus bulgur wheat salad

If you can find some blood oranges, those look (and taste) great in this salad.

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked bulgur wheat
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 small oranges, peeled and sliced
  • Lemon honey cilantro dressing (recipe follows)
  1. Combine all ingredients except the oranges in a mixing bowl and toss to combine. Top with the dressing (recipe below), and toss to coat.
  2. Divide salad onto two plates and top with orange slices. Serve room temperature or cold. Makes 2 servings.

Lemon honey cilantro dressing

  • Juice and zest from 1 Meyer lemon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Pinch of salt
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Slowly whisk in the honey.
  2. Stir in the cilantro and salt. Pour over the bulgur wheat salad.

Garden couscous salad

  • 3 medium ears sweet corn, husks removed (or 1/2 large package thawed, frozen sweet corn)
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 medium cucumber, halved and sliced (I prefer them peeled)
  • 1 package cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper (or to taste)
  1. Bring water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add a little bit of white sugar and a splash of white vinegar (maybe 1 teaspoon at most for 3 ears of corn) and bring it back to a boil. Add the corn and bring to a boil one more time; cover, remove from heat and let the corn sit in the water for about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, cheese, onion and parsley. Drain the corn and pat dry; cut kernels from the cobs. Add to cucumber mixture. Stir in couscous.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, and seasonings. Pour over the couscous mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Black bean and couscous salad

Some sliced almonds and dried cranberries or craisins would be great additions to this salad.

  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a 2 quart or larger sauce pan and stir in the couscous. Cover the pot and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar and cumin. Add green onions, red pepper, cilantro, corn and beans and toss to coat.
  3. Fluff the couscous well, breaking up any chunks. Add to the bowl with the vegetables and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve at once or refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 8 servings.

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