I haven’t given enough love on this site to my Syrian/Lebanese origins. I have only one Lebanese recipe on Savormania to date for this mujaddara, and it is such a shame since it is my favorite cuisine, topping even my love for Asian food. Lebanese food is renowned for featuring fresh produce in innovative and tasty ways, mostly combining olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and several spices. You’ll never find a Lebanese meal that doesn’t come with any fruits or vegetables, as they are an integral part of every breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Lebanese tend to serve many mezze to share before the main course that put forward an array of fresh produce, including moutabal, fresh vegetable salad, taboule, and many other delicious small dishes, like this bulgur red lentil salad.
This bulgur red lentil salad is generally made to be shaped as keftas — or patties — but I love to serve it as a big salad. Bulgur is a type of dried cracked wheat, made from the groats of a variety of different wheat species. Typically used in Middle Eastern cuisines, bulgur has a nutty flavor and is praised for its anti-inflammatory effects, low-fat and high fiber contents and richness in minerals. You can cook with it in so many ways, ranging from pastries and soups to stuffing and meat dishes, but my favorite way is to include it in big filling salads, like this bulgur mint variety. There are two types of bulgur — fine bulgur (used in this salad) and coarser bulgur (used typically in pilafs). I tend to cook mainly with fine bulgur, as I always have some available in my kitchen to use to make tabbouleh or kibbe for Friday night Shabbat dinners.
Last weekend I wanted to make a new salad highlighting the versatility of bulgur. I looked through my Lebanese cookbooks and stumbled upon a salad recipe calling for fine bulgur and lentils, and pretty much invented the rest as I went along. I chose to include red lentils for their nutritional benefits — high in dietary fiber, folate, iron and magnesium, making them the perfect foods to eat for lunch at work to keep me energized throughout the day. Red lentils are quick to cook and only take about 10 minutes. You can cook them while you soak the fine bulgur in cold water — a step you mustn’t skip, if not your bulgur will be inedible as it needs to be softened!
I added whatever vegetables I had left in my fridge, chopped in a small dice — red pepper, yellow pepper, green onion — but could have easily added a tomato as well as maybe some cucumber. I decided to keep it simple so as to make the bulgur and red lentils the true stars of the show. I used my favorite spice — cumin — to jazz up the salad, pairing it with a olive oil and tomato paste dressing that is to die for. I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as I did!
- 2 cups fine bulgur
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cups water
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 yellow pepper, diced
- 4 stalks of green onion, diced
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoon tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place a sieve above a mixing bowl. Put the bulgur in the sieve and let it sit in cold water for 15 minutes. Squeeze as much water as you can out of the bulgur and place the bulgur in a big bowl.
- In a small saucepan, sweat the red lentils and half of the onion in the water for 8 to 10 minutes until soft. Place in the bowl with the bulgur.
- Mix in all the rest of the ingredients. Cover in foil paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
How did your bulgur red lentil salad come out? Share photos of your recipe on Instagram by tagging #savormania