This nutty-flavoured and pleasingly textured grain is another of those culinary staples where other more attention-seeking ingredients can show themselves off. Although we’re more familiar with it as a salad, in the Eastern Med it’s used as a pilaff, and I think it works well as hot ballast for fish, chicken or lamb dishes. You can use the same method of preparation: simply soften the shallots in some olive oil first, then add the swollen bulgur and whatever other things you care to put in. If you have any leftover cappon magro sauce, this is where to use it.
This is my version of tabbouleh, which is probably stretching the description a bit.
In a large bowl mix together the bulgur and water or stock. Leave to stand for half an hour while you prepare the other ingredients. Cut a cross in the tops of the tomatoes and plunge them into the boiling water for 20 seconds. Place in a bowl of cold water, remove the skin and pips, and cut into smallish (1cm) dice. Put the cucumber in a sieve over a pan or bowl and sprinkle well with salt. Put a small plate or saucer on top and weight it down. Leave for 30 minutes, rinse under the cold tap and dry with kitchen paper or in a clean tea towel. Remove the orange segments by cutting down on either side of the membranes holding them. Do this over a bowl. You should have about 2 tbsp juice when you have squeezed out the orange skeleton. Add the juice to the walnut oil and reserve. Chop each orange segment into three.
Mix the tomatoes, cucumber, orange pieces and rind, shallots, herbs, cinnamon, and almonds into the bulgur, then add 1 tsp salt and the lemon juice. Finally stir in the walnut oil and orange juice. Check that there’s enough salt.
© 2001 Stephen Bull. All rights reserved.