Photography by Ilaria Biuso
Ooooh my first recipe for the blog! Exciting stuff. It's not as though Spring Burghul Salad and I go way back or share a life's history of satisfying nourishment or anything. It’s just that one day I was in need of something sustaining so had a look in the pantry, became a little overwhelmed with the choices, but decided to give it a go anyway, and this was the result! It’s great as a salad on its own but would team up perfectly with grilled chicken or lambikins, AKA lamb. And by the way, burghul is sometimes known as bulgur.
2 cups burghul wheat 1 litre (4 cups) boiling water Salt 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 medium brown onion, peeled and coarsely chopped 5 Tbsp water 1 carrot, peeled and diced 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed Finely grated zest 1 lemon 2 cups frozen baby peas ½ a telegraph cucumber, washed well, or peeled, chopped 2 cups baby spinach leaves, destalked 6 small vine tomatoes, chopped 70g (2½ oz) pitted dry black olives 100g (3½ oz) creamy feta, crumbled 1 Tbsp each coarsely chopped parsley and basil, or add as much as you like to make it as herby as you want, really
1 Put the burghul in a sieve and rinse under running water (this gets rid of dust and stuff), then tip it into a large bowl. Add 1 litre of boiling water and a few pinches of salt. Stir, then leave for about 20 minutes. The burghul will absorb most of the water but you will still need to drain it when ready (the grains will feel plump and semi-tender, still a bit chewy.) Tip it into a sieve and drain for at least 10 minutes. Give it a shake, and if water is still coming out, drain it on paper towels or bundle it up in a clean cloth.
2 Heat extra virgin olive oil in a small heated frying pan over a really low heat and add the chopped onion and 3 tablespoons of water. You want to cook the onions for about 20 minutes, until they are translucent and very soft. Give them a good stir every so often. This serves as a main flavour base for the salad.
3 When the onions are translucent, add the diced carrot, the remaining 2 tablespoons of water, and a generous sprinkle of salt. Cook for a further 7 minutes, stirring often to ensure there’s no catching on the bottom of the pan, or until the carrot has really softened. Add the garlic and lemon zest and continue to sauté on a low heat until the garlic has browned. Take pan off the heat and set aside.
4 Put peas in a sieve and rinse off icy bits. Add them and a few pinches of salt to a pot of boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes and before they turn to mush, drain, and rinse in cold water. Drain again and transfer to a big bowl. (Despite the temptation, do NOT put the bag of remaining frozen peas in the pantry as I did, instead of where they belong… in the fridge. I mean freezer. Arrgh!! This is the first recipe I’ve ever written and it’s hard to stay with it!)
5 Anypoo, back to the bowl, add the chopped cucumber, the spinach (if the leaves are big, feel free to coarsely chop them), the tomatoes, olives, feta, and parsley and basil.
6 Then make the vinaigrette. Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rinse preserved lemon under running cold water and get rid of the pulp – I know it’s weird, but that’s the bit you don’t want because it’s too mushy and quite salty. Dry the rind with paper towels and chop finely. Add to the dressing, mix in, and pour everything over the salad ingredients. Toss together and serve immediately, keeping it all as fresh as poss!
About the olives:
I like the little oily Moroccan olives by Crespo ‘Les olives du Marche’ because they’re nice and earthy and really olivey. But you can use what you want, just don’t use pitted olives in brine because they usually have that weird chemically enhanced flavour, Haha… or is that just me?
A few things I’ve learned:
I add the water to the onions and carrots because it stops them from frying too quickly and lets them soften down nicely before they fry. Sometimes I let the onion and carrot cook together for more than 10 minutes, if I sort of forget them, and it makes them sweeter. Just be careful not to let them catch.
Putting the peas in a sieve and rinsing off the ice crystals before you add them to the boiling water saves time. Otherwise, you wait for ages for the water to come back to the boil.
Photography by Ilaria Biuso