Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bulgar Salad Recipe with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Parsley, Mint, and Lemon (Vegan)

If you like summer flavors, you'll love this Bulgar Salad Recipe with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Parsley, Mint, and Lemon.

Bulgar Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Parsley, Mint, and Lemon
A few weeks ago when I had some people over for dinner, my friend Georgette brought this salad, along with a copy of the recipe that she'd found in Cooking Light. I loved the recipe, but didn't realize until I looked for it online that it was created by Joanne Weir, one of my favorite cookbook authors who recently started a blog. This salad has many ingredients found in Tabbouleh, but the amount of tomato and cucumber and the addition of green onion gives this salad a slightly different attitude.

I changed the original recipe just a bit, adding lemon zest and a bit more olive oil, and this was a delightful way to use some tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, and parsley from the garden. I'm also thinking there are lots of interesting things that could be added to this. Have you ever cooked with bulgur? If you have a good idea for using this healthy whole grain, let us know about it in the comments.

If you're not familiar with bulgur, it's a type of wheat that's parboiled, then dried and cracked. Since it's a whole grain, bulgur is great for anyone who's following the South Beach Diet.

The recipe directions said to soak the bulgur in boiling water for 30 minutes. Here's how it looked when I first added the water.

After 30 minutes, the bulgur had absorbed most of the water, but if I tipped the bowl, there was still quite a bit of water in the bottom. I wasn't in a hurry, so I let it soak about 45 minutes more.

You could probably just drain off the extra water if you're in a hurry, but I soaked my bulgur about 80 minutes, and after that much time it was nicely fluffy. Bulgur can be a bit chewy for some people, so I think a little extra soaking is good if you have time. I'm guessing that fresher bulgur probably needs less soaking time too.

I whisked together the lemon zest, lemon juice, minced garlic, and olive oil, and stirred it into the bulgur, then let it sit while I chopped the herbs and vegetables.

After the bulgur has hung around with the dressing for about 20 minutes, stir in the chopped mint, parsley, and green onions.

I used cherry tomatoes, which I thought held together very well in this salad, but you could also use chopped whole tomaotes. With the tomatoes and cucumbers I was going for the symmetry of cut (same-sized pieces) that I'm sometimes so picky about!

Here's the finished salad with the tomatoes and cucumbers gently stirred in. Season with a bit of salt and fresh ground black pepper, and serve.

Bulgur Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Parsley, Mint, and Lemon
(Makes 4-6 servings, recipe slightly adapted from a recipe by Joanne Weir that appeared in Cooking Light, shared with me by Georgette.)

1 cup bulgur
1 cup boiling water
zest of one lemon (optional, but good)
3 T fresh lemon juice
3 T olive oil
2 tsp. finely minced garlic
1 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used curly parsley, but either type will work)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup sliced green onions
3 cups chopped tomatoes
1 1/4 cup chopped cucumbers
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Measure out 1 cup bulgur into a bowl big enough to hold the finished salad. Add 1 cup boiling water, stir, and let bulgur soak until all the water is absorbed. (The recipe said 30 minutes, but I soaked the bulgur about 80 minutes, which made it nice and fluffy.)

While bulgur soaks, zest one lemon and put zest into a small bowl. Squeeze lemon juice into bowl, adding more if needed to make 3 T lemon juice. Add finely minced garlic, then whisk in 3 T olive oil. When bulgur has absorbed all the water, stir in this dressing and let marinate while you chop herbs and veggies.

Wash parsley and mint and spin dry or dry with paper towels. Chop herbs and slice green onions and stir into bulgur. Peel cucumbers and remove seeds if the seeds are big. (I had garden cucumbers, so I left the seeds in.) Dice cucumbers and tomatoes into pieces about 1/2 inch, then gently stir into salad. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve.

Even though tomatoes should never be refrigerated, I was surprised that this was still quite good after it had been in the fridge overnight. Let come to room temperature before eating leftovers if possible.

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This salad with bulgur and lots of fresh herbs is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by The Crispy Cook. WHB is now under the capable management of Haalo, and you can find the rules for Weekend Herb Blogging and a place to check who's hosting Weekend Herb Blogging at her beautiful blog, Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once.

South Beach Suggestions:
Bulgur is a whole grain, and all the other ingredients in this salad are healthful low-glycemic foods, making this a perfect choice for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. This would taste great with something like Herb Encrusted Grilled Salmon, Souvlaki, or Grilled Fusion Chicken.

More Healthy Salads with Bulgur:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Kalyn's Tabbouleh with Almonds from Kalyn's Kitchen

Bulgur, Celery, and Pomegranate Salad from 101 Cookbooks

Bulgur Salad with Feta and Shrimp from Frantic Home Cook

Spicy Bulgur Salad with Nuts and Tomato Paste Dressing from Aglaia's Table

Bulgur Salad with Oranges, Cashews, and Fresh Herbs from Enlightened Cooking

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)counter customizable free hit
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More to Chew On:


  1. What a fresh and colorful salad. I need to figure out where I can buy bulgar in bulk. I love using it in salads, and I don't often find it in the supermarket, so I'm always short. Do you know of any companies that sell 5 pound bags?

  2. TW, I don't think I've seen it in 5 pound bags, but in Utah I can buy it in bulk at Whole Foods. I can bring you some to SF if you'd like! (Really looking forward to meeting you!)

  3. Sounds like a great version of tabouli!

    Bulgur is also really good in bread- has a great no-knead whole grain bread with bulgur.

  4. Sarah, I agree! I have a good bread machine bread recipe with bulgur on this blog too. Will have to check the one at

  5. This sounds so delicious, especially with the mint. Yum!

  6. This sounds great and I have all the ingredients! I had the pleasure of taking a cooking class from Joanne Weir a few years ago in San Francisco. It was truly one of the coolest experiences I have ever had!!

  7. Happy you like my salad! What a great blog and I love your step-by-step! Thanks for including me!tomato

  8. Such beautiful colors! I love the sound of that lemony-garlicy dressing. You've inspired me to pick up some bulgar this weekend!

  9. I actually made this a week and a half ago. I THINK I got the recipe from cooking light...It was very good!

  10. This is one of my favorite salad. How more healthy than that? Love your picture.

  11. Stacey I love mint and it's unbelievably easy to grow!

    TwounderClub, I would love to meet her. So many of her recipes appeal to me!

    Joanne, so thrilled to get a comment from you. As I said above, would love to meet you!

    Sam bulgur is great, and I would eat that lemony garlic dressing on just about everything!

    Elenka, we all loved it here!

  12. I remember stumbling onto Joanne's cooking show years ago, before I knew who she was, and being completely enchanted with her recipes and cooking style. This is a great recipe, and I'm jealous that so much of what's in it came from your garden.

  13. Lydia, I do feel blessed to have such an abundance of garden stuff, especially after I have neglected it this year.

  14. delicious! this is my kind of food!

  15. This looks so cheerful! And I can only imagine what a flavor bomb it is.

    Also, the lighting and white balance are both superb!

  16. One of the best things about your blog - and YOU - is that you take healthy things and turn them into very unique, flavorful, amazing dishes.

    Once again I will be making Kalyn's Kitchen food this weekend!

  17. This looks awesome. I love the flavor of tabouli, but prefer more of a bulgar salad with the other ingredients to accompany it...rather than a parsley salad with a little bulgar...I like the proportions and additions here!

  18. London foodie, me too!

    Kay, thanks so much. I love to get photo feedback from a good photographer like you (good or bad, I'm always trying to learn more!)

    Donna, thanks. I try to find things that seem good to me, glad you like them too.

    Amy, I like both ways, but sounds like this is perfect for you!

  19. Boy this salad looks delicious...and beautiful too!

  20. Thanks for such a fresh and lovely entry for WHB. I'll bet this would be a great dish made with quinoa too (can't handle the gluten at our house).

  21. John, thanks. I don't always like my photos (!) but I was happy with how this turned out.

    Rachel, I think quinoa would be fantastic in this. Great idea for gluten-free.

  22. I love tabboulleh so this delicious salad would be welcome anytume...perfect for picnics.

  23. I have a lot of leftover couscous from tonight that I dont know what to mix with. I think this will work (replacing the bulgur). And since I don't have mint or parsley, I'll have to use cilantro, lol.

  24. esper_d, I think couscous, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cilantro would make a good salad combination.

  25. This salad looks delicious and I would love to make it for lunch. Can it be made ahead of time (about 6 hours) and still taste as good?


  26. Jennifer I did say in the recipe that I was surprised it was still quite good after being refrigerated overnight, so I think six hours ahead would be fine.

  27. This salad looks like one I often make. I actually boil the bulgar but soaking it seems better. Thanks for a new idea!

  28. I made your recipe tonight but ended up altering it. The mint was over powering the salad and there was far too much bulgur. I doubled the parsley and halved the bulgur and that helped. Next time I'll halve the mint as well and reduce the bulgur to 1/4 c (raw measurement).

  29. Everyone has their own preferences, so feel free to adapt any way you'd like!

  30. so pretty but astonishingly bland. I even added a bit more garlic.

    1. So surprised to hear that. I can't imagine this salad being bland if you have flavorful tomatoes and cucumbers and added the parsley and mint this salad calls for. Sorry to hear it was not a winner for you.


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