By Lynda Balslev United Feature Syndicate
A salad that calls itself a substantial meal is no floppy affair. Greens are certainly welcome, if not prolific, but a main course salad is more than ruffled lettuce leaves. The key to a satisfying salad is to add layers of ingredients that contribute weight and texture – to create a hearty, yet light, dish that won’t leave you rummaging through the fridge for snacks when you have ended.
This salad consists of three distinct components that come together beautifully, but can also be enjoyed on their own. Bulgur is made from whole, cracked wheat kernels that are parboiled and dried. The grains are chewy and chewy, and packed with protein and fiber. Bulgur is a traditional staple of Levantine cuisine and a feature of tabbouleh, a popular chopped grain salad. Bulgur is also a hearty and savory addition to soups and stews, a garnish in ground meat or vegetable patties, and a simple protein-rich alternative for a grain side dish. Note that other grains, such as rice, farro, or quinoa, can substitute for bulgur in this salad. (Cooking methods vary by grain.)
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The grilled vegetables speak for themselves; they are always a delight, especially in summer, when Provençal vegetables are plentiful. They too can be mixed and matched according to your tastes and availability. The whipped feta is the extra dollop on top, both literally and figuratively. Savory, salty feta is spiced up and lightened by a blitz in a food processor with Greek yogurt and lemon. The result is a creamy spread that can be used as a dip or dressing. You can’t use all of the whipped feta for the salad, which is a good thing because it’s a versatile condiment that can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.
Finally, let’s talk about one of the spices that makes this salad stand out: Aleppo pepper is a deep red pepper that’s sweet, fruity, and warmly spicy. It doesn’t scream hot, like cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, and it’s a wonderful flavor enhancer. If you can’t find Aleppo pepper, Espelette pepper is a great substitute, or just use sweet paprika.
Lynda Balslev is co-author of “Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture” (Gibbs Smith, 2014). Contact her at TasteFood, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or email [email protected] Or visit the TasteFood blog at tastefoodblog.com.