This hearty salad is a variation on the traditional Turkish kisir salad, packed with parsley, toasted hazelnuts and lettuce tossed in with tomato bulgar, it’s a full and flavoursome meal in one. Bulgar tastes best warm or at room temperature so this salad is perfect for lunch on the go and great aeroplane fodder too (FYI did you know that the flavour of tomatoes is accentuated at high altitudes?).
A staple throughout the Middle East, bulgar wheat is produced by steaming, drying and cracking wheat kernels, keeping all the nutritional value intact that is often stripped from its refined counterparts. It has a slightly nutty flavour and chewy texture, a great alternative to rice and couscous as well as being really easy to use. This nutrient dense grain has got you covered for more than 10% of your RDA of iron and magnesium, and a good spectrum of b vitamins, while the high protein and fibre content slows the release of glucose into your bloodstream, keeping you full for longer and sugar craving free. Often it’s difficult for the body to absorb iron, especially the non-heme type that is found in plants. Luckily in this salad, the vitamin C present in the tomatoes and parsley captures the non-heme iron and keeps it in an absorbable form, doubling the amount of iron available to the body.
Turkish Bulgar Salad
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional or stir in lemon juice at the end instead)
400g tin of whole tinned tomatoes
1 used empty tomato tin full of water
1 cup coarse bulgar wheat
¾ tsp salt
1 medium sized head of a robust lettuce
½ cup parsley
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts or walnuts, chopped
¼ cup of sunflower seeds
On a medium heat, sweat the onions and garlic with some olive oil. When they look soft and slightly translucent, add the tin of tomatoes, an equivalent tin full of water, pomegranate molasses and the salt. Bring to a simmer, then add the bulgar wheat. Stirring occasionally, keep on heat for about five minutes, as the bulgar starts to absorb all the flavours and liquid. After five minutes, take the pot off the heat, put on a lid, and leave the bulgar wheat to sit for 20 minutes with the lid on, then 10 minutes with the lid off.
While you wait, prepare the other components. Finely chop the parsley, roughly shred the lettuce, and mix in the chopped nuts and seeds into a bowl. When the bulgar wheat is ready and cooled down to room-temperature, add the bowl of herb and lettuce and mix together.
The role of vitamin C in iron absorption http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2507689
The science behind why you drink tomato juice when you’re on an airplane http://www.newsweek.com/science-behind-why-you-drink-tomato-juice-airplanes-335383?piano_t=1