Monday, June 14, 2010


Since I live in South Carolina, it's wicked hot. So hot that I don't always want to cook and sometimes wonder if I could lower my power bill by leaving things outside to cook in the afternoon sun. And since I do the Pinckney's thing, I have a steady supply of cucumbers. And since I grow some things in my backyard, I also have fresh parsley and mint. Hmm...

For this recipe, I did go out and buy some bulghur wheat and a few vine-ripened tomatoes. I'm not always so good at using up cucumbers before they spoil, but I figured that I could use up my whole supply in one go with this recipe (loosely based on the one in the "Algerie" chapter of La cuisine autour de la mediterranee*):

1 cup bulghur wheat (a.k.a. cracked wheat)
3-4 medium, ripe tomatoes, diced
5 small (pickling) cucumbers, or 2-3 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Place the uncooked bulghur wheat in a mixing bowl (can also be the container in which it will be stored) and cover with the diced tomatoes, transferring as much tomato juice as possible. Add the diced cucumbers, parsley, mint, olive oil and lemon juice and stir until combined. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours; this will allow enough time for the juices to soften up the bulghur wheat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you eat light, this may suffice as a meal. Otherwise, you could serve this with hummus and pita wedges or maybe some blackened chicken or fish. Since it usually takes me a few days to go through it, I prefer to add salt and pepper to individual portions so that the rest of the batch will keep. It can also be made with couscous instead of the bulghur wheat. Using couscous reduces the wait time to an hour or two, but since it's a processed grain, it also breaks down faster. One thing I learned the first time I made this is, despite the directions in the recipe book referenced above, you do *not* want to cook the grain. Cooking the grain, especially if it's couscous, makes for a very mushy salad. Letting the grain soak up the juices from the tomato, cucumber and lemon not only heads off this problem but also allows the grain to absorb their flavors. This is a great, no-cook recipe on a hot summer day!

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