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Bulgur Salad with Pomegranate
Bulgur is an extremely versatile ingredient that’s perfect for anything from stews, sides to salads. It’s used in large parts of the Middle East, be it Turkey, Lebanon or Egypt. That said, there are countless versions of bulgur salad out there.
I’m going to introduce you to one of the many ways to make bulgur salad with pomegranate the Middle Eastern way. This recipe is perfect if you’re looking for a simple and quick way to make bulgur salad without fancy ingredients or long cooking times.
What is Bulgur?
Bulgur (also burghul) is made from cracked whole wheat that has been parboiled and dried. Bulgur is an easy-to-cook and very versatile ingredient with a slightly nutty flavor profile.
If North Africa has couscous, the Middle East has bulgur! Bulgur is an extremely versatile grain that can be used in many different ways. It can serve as a substitute for rice (often in combination with vegetables), but it’s also very popular for salads.
With tabbouleh being the most popular of all Middle Eastern bulgur salads, there are many more ways to make bulgur salad. Bulgur pairs with almost any vegetable, from tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, herbs, courgette, eggplant – you name it.
What’s important to know is there are various types of bulgur, from extra fine to extra coarse. Different grain sizes have different uses. The main differences are as follows:
- Fine bulgur: Fine bulgur is what you need for tabouli salad. This type of bulgur is very fine and doesn’t need to be cooked (soaking in hot water is enough). In addition to tabouli, fine bulgur can also be used for meatballs.
- Coarse bulgur: Coarse bulgur has much larger grain size than fine bulgur. For this reason, it needs to be cooked before use (15-20 minutes cooking time). Coarse bulgur makes a delicious pilaf and is also commonly used in salads (other than tabouli), soups and for stuffing. Coarse bulgur doesn’t need to be washed or soaked before cooking.
To make bulgur salad, you’ll need the following basic ingredients:
- Coarse bulgur: As its name suggests, bulgur (burghul in Arabic) is the key ingredient to this recipe. You’ll need coarse bulgur. Don’t use fine bulgur. Some shops also sell medium coarse bulgur, which is okay to be used as well.
- Tomatoes: Large ripe tomatoes are best for salads.
- Cucumbers: You can use Persian cucumbers (the small cucumbers you’ll find at most Middle Eastern grocery stores) or large English cucumbers.
- Bell pepper (capsicum): Bell peppers (or capsicum) will give your salad a pleasant sweet note. Red or yellow bell peppers are the preferred choice, but green ones are okay to be used as well (they taste slightly bitter though).
- Pomegranate: Pomegranate is a hugely popular fruit across the entire Middle East. It’s a wonderful ingredient to bulgur salad as it gives it a wonderful sweet note.
- Parsley and mint: Fresh herbs round off this salad. Flat-leaf parsley (also known as Italian parsley) and fresh mint are the best choice. Both will be finely chopped and added to the salad.
- Dressing: A simple dressing of olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon, pomegranate syrup, sumac and salt is what makes this salad perfect. It’s the most popular salad dressing in the Middle East. If you don’t have pomegranate syrup and sumac available or aren’t in the mood to make a dressing by yourself, you could substitute it with a balsamico vinaigrette. Though that’s not Middle Eastern, a Mediterranean vinaigrette would match this salad too.
Note: The exact quantities (according to the amount of servings) can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe.
How to Make Bulgur Salad
Ready to make bulgur salad? Let’s get started!
Step 1: Cook the bulgur
Unlike fine bulgur which only requires soaking, coarse bulgur needs to be cooked. Place the bulgur in a saucepan and add two to three times the amount of (hot) water. Bring the water to a boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until the bulgur is tender. Drain it in a fine mesh strainer and let it drain while you prepare the remaining ingredients for your bulgur salad.
Step 2: Chop the vegetables
Chop the tomatoes into medium-sized pieces. Cut off the ends of the cucumber. Just like the tomatoes, the cucumber pieces should be roughly chopped in cubes or thin slices. Chop the capsicum into small to medium pieces. Add the chopped ingredients to a large salad bowl.
Step 3: Chop the herbs
Pluck the mint leaves one by one off the stems (don’t use the stems). Cut off the large stems of the parsley and dispose of them (you can keep the small stems between the leaves). Finely chop the parsley and mint leaves and add them to the salad bowl.
Not sure how to chop parsley? Check out my step-by-step tutorial on chopping parsley.
Step 4: Deseed the pomegranate
Open the pomegranate and desert it. Make sure to use only the seeds, not the white bits inbetween (dispose of them). Transfer the pomegranate seeds to the mixing bowl. Mix well to combine all ingredients you added in the previous steps.
Step 5: Prepare the dressing
Grab a second bowl or pitcher to prepare the dressing. Squeeze the lemon (or use lemon juice) and add the juice into the bowl/pitcher. Add pomegranate syrup, olive oil, sumac and salt. Whisk to mix all ingredients.
Step 6: Serve
Add the dressing to the salad a few minutes before serving. Mix well to make sure all the ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing. Serve at room temperature or refrigerated. Garnish with some additional pomegranate seeds and serve with fresh lemon (optional). Serve as a side dish to any Middle Eastern main dish or as a light meal.
What to Eat with Bulgur Salad?
Bulgur salad is often served as a side dish, similar to tabbouleh salad. It goes particularly well with meat dishes, such as grilled chicken or kebab.
Thanks to its main ingredient (bulgur), this nutritious salad also makes a wonderful light dish. It’s the perfect lunch for busy working days or hot summer days.
Storage & Make Ahead
Don’t store the salad with dressing as it will cause it to become soggy. When making a larger batch to consume over several days, store in an airtight container the fridge (without dressing) and consume within 2-3 days. Add the dressing right before serving.
As I mentioned, there are countless ways to prepare bulgur salad. In the Middle East and Mediterraneans, it’s very common to adapt the ingredients of a salad to a season. That said, bulgur salad with pomegranate seeds is a very popular salad during late summer and autumn when it’s pomegranate season. Feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking. Here’s some inspiration for ingredients to add:
- Chickpeas (cooked or roasted) (for the Moroccan version)
- Tomato paste (Kisir, the Turkish version of bulgur salad)
- Lentils (to make lentil bulgur salad)
- Red onion
- Feta cheese
- Roasted vegetables
Any Questions or Feedback?
If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.
Bulgur Salad with Pomegranate
An easy bulgur salad with Mediterranean flavors that comes together in less than 10 minutes. The perfect midweek salad recipe that everyone will like.
- 160 g (1 cup) bulgur coarse or medium coarse
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 cucumber small
- 1 capsicum yellow or red
- 1/4 pomegranate
- 1/2 bunch parsley
- 1/4 bunch mint
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp pomegranate syrup
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp sumac
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Place the bulgur in a saucepan and add twice or thrice the amount of water. Bring to a boil. Boil for about 15 minutes. Then drain the cooked bulgur in a fine-mesh strainer and let drain while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Finely chop the tomatoes, cucumber and capsicum and add to a large bowl.
- Pluck the mint leaves one by one off the stems. Cut off the large stems of the parsley and dispose of them. Finely chop the parsley and mint leaves and add to the bowl.
- Open the pomegranate and deseed it. Add the seeds to the bowl. Mix well.
- Prepare the dressing in a second bowl/pitcher. Squeeze the lemon and add the juice to the pitcher. Add pomegranate syrup, olive oil, sumac and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, mix well to combine. Serve with additional fresh lemon (optional) as a side dish or light meal.
- Make sure to use coarse bulgur for this salad. Fine bulgur won’t work as well.
- Coarse bulgur doesn’t require washing or soaking prior to cooking.
- The cooking time for coarse bulgur is 15-20 minutes. Check the instructions of your brand to double check the exact time.
- Parsley: Dispose of the large stems. The small stems between the leaves can be eaten.
- Mint: Dispose of all the stems (even the smaller ones). Pluck the leaves off the stems one by one.
- The dressing consists of some typical Middle Eastern ingredients which you can find in any Middle Eastern grocery store or online. If you don’t have them available, you can substitute the dressing with a Mediterranean balsamico / vinaigrette.
Calories: 276kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 7gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 307mgPotassium: 556mgFiber: 11gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 1507IUVitamin C: 65mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 2mg
Nutrition information is only a rough estimate and may vary depending on factors such as the cooking method, exact weight, type, and brand of ingredients used.
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