When the days get longer and hotter, I want to spend less time in a hot kitchen.
One of the dishes I'll be making a lot of this summer is tabbouleh. Tabbouleh's main ingredient, bulgur wheat, is a whole grain that has been partially cooked, meaning the dish requires little heat and even less time to make. The quick cooking method, together with and a healthy addition of wonderful seasonal ingredients such as parsley, tomatoes, green onions, and a squeeze of lemon juice gives you classic and refreshing tabbouleh in a snap. I could make it every day. But what happens when you have had enough of the classic flavors and want a twist on the traditional? Or maybe you'd like a bulgur wheat based salad that is still refreshing but hearty enough to serve for a main course?
Try this tabbouleh with a twist: Bulgur Wheat Salad with Grilled Chicken, Tart Green Apple and Goat Cheese. Everything zings with fresh flavor in this dish, from the mild tang of fresh goat cheese to the tart granny smith apple to the splash of lemon juice at the finish. A coolly delicious antidote to the hottest of days.
Bulgur Wheat Salad with Grilled Chicken, Tart Green Apple and Goat Cheese
1 cup bulgur wheat, medium grind
2 cups cold water
1 tart green apple, such as granny smith
4 large or 6 small scallions
1 generous bunch fresh parsley or half parsley, half fresh mint if you like mint
Salt to taste
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 ounces fresh young goat's cheese, crumbled
1. Heat a large flat-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add bulgur to the dry pan to toast, stirring often. Bulgur goes from toasted to burned quickly, so remove the pan from the heat when the bulgur is nicely browned.
2. Immediately add the water, stir, then cover the pan with a tight fitting lid. Set the pan aside for about an hour while the bulgur absorbs all the liquid. After 60 minutes, check the bulgur wheat. If all the liquid has been absorbed, fluff the grains lightly with a fork and turn the wheat into a large bowl to cool. (If the liquid hasn't been absorbed completely, give the wheat a few more minutes.)
3. While the bulgur cools, cut the apple's flesh from the core, yielding four pieces. Cut each piece through the center, and then cut these two slices into long slender matchsticks. Halve the matchsticks crosswise to make them shorter if desired.
4. Wash and thinly slice the scallions. Roughly chop all the leaves from a bunch of parsley (or half parsley and half mint, if you are using this).
5. Add all the chopped produce to the cooled bulgur. Squeeze the juice from one lemon over everything. Drizzle up to 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top and mix all the ingredients together gently to evenly distribute. Add salt only to taste, a little at a time to avoid over salting the dish.
To serve, spoon the bulgur wheat and apple salad on plates, top with sliced grilled chicken breast, and crumble the fresh goat cheese over the top.
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Amesbury resident and author Jane Ward blogs about food and fiction at authorjaneward.wordpress.com/