Bulgur Salad with Kale, Apricot, Basil + Pistachios
Why we love it:
- 3 cups Bulgur Wheat
- 3 cups Vegetable Stock
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided)
- 5 Apricotss (ripe)
- 1 bunch Lacinato Kale (large bunch) (also called dino kale)
- 1⁄4 cup Cider Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1⁄2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (extra virgin olive oil, high quality)
- 4 ounces Feta Cheese (the kind in a block ideally)
- 1⁄2 bunch Basil
- 1 Lemon (zest and juice, divided)
- 1⁄2 cup Pistachios (shelled)
Combine the bulgur, stock and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium pot with a fitted lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir it well and reduce to low. Cover. Steam/simmer for about 12-14 minutes until most of the water has evaporated/been absorbed. Unlike rice, its ok to open and stir a few times, it actually leads to more even cooking.
While the bulgur is cooking, slice the apricots in half and remove the pit. Typically apricot pits fall out relatively easily, but if needed use a paring knife to loosen and pry it out. Slice the apricots into neat wedges or small dice.
Optional Step - roast the apricots. If you feel like you don’t have peak flavor fruit, or want to try something a little different, roast the apricots for about 5-6 minutes at 350. Toss them first with a pinch of salt and light drizzle of olive oil. The roasting concentrates the flavor and softens them up if they’re underripe.
In a small jar or bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the zest of the lemon, half of the lemon juice, mustard, and cider vinegar. Tear or slice about half of the basil leaves (about ¼ of a bunch) and add as well. Whisk or shake well. Add the olive oil (all but 1 teaspoon) and shake to combine. Set aside for now.
Trim off the bottom of the stems depending on how tender and fresh they look. Usually, you only have to trim about 1” off but if they are thicker than a pencil, you can trim up higher. Also, press a finger nail into the stem to see how soft or wood it is - the more tender the better. Another method is to take a bite and see how it tastes! Wash and dry the leaves. Stack them and roll them into a manageable bundle. Starting from the top, slice through the leaves into ⅓” thick strips. When you reach the point where the stems become thicker, make your slices thinner.
*if you don’t enjoy the kale stems, you can remove them before slicing. Consider saving them for stock or pickles (great in a bloody mary garnish!)*
Place the kale in a large bowl once its chopped. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil (use a high quality one here), the remaining ¼ tsp of salt, and the other half of the lemon, juiced. Use your fingertips to massage the greens and you’ll see them turn from pale and fluffy to dark green and shiny, they’ll reduce dramatically in volume.
*If you don’t like raw kale, you can saute the greens after cutting them.
Use the oil, lemon, salt, and vinegar all the same and stir in a hot pan until they’re wilted.*
5. FETA AND PISTACHIOS
Many pistachios come roasted and salted already, if you’re aren’t, place them on a baking sheet and roast at 350 degrees for about 4-5 minutes. You can also do this in a dry saute pan. And, you can also skip this step entirely! Taste the pistachios and see if you like them as is or if they need some extra flavor.
Crumble or dice the feta into pieces that are about the same size as the pistachios.
6. FINISH SALAD
Check the bulgur, which is likely done by now, the liquid should be absorbed and the grains fluffier and tender. If there’s some liquid left, you can leave the lid off and turn the heat up a bit and it will simmer and evaporate. When its done, fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Add half of the lemon juice. Slice or tear the remaining basil leaves into big pieces and add them too.
Add the massaged kale, the apricots, and the feta. Add about half of the dressing and gently toss to coat. *If you’re serving the salad with mac and cheese tomorrow night, you’ll use the rest of the dressing.
This type of salad holds up wonderfully because the grains actually soak up flavor overnight. It can be served right away though. Taste is before serving and if desired, add a little more dressing to taste. Serve in wide, shallow bowls, just warm or at room temperature.