Bulgur Veggie Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
This quick salad is equal parts delicious, healthy and colorful! Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, kidney beans, pickles, red onions, and mint mixed together with bulgur give this middle eastern salad a bit of a twist. Top it off with a lemony tahini dressing and you have your new favorite fresh and easy salad!
I love bulgur. It is one of my favorite grains and it gives every dish it’s in a better texture and flavor. Most people think of tabbouleh as the most popular dish to use bulgur in, but it is used in so much more than that (although tabbouleh is one of my favorite foods of all time, my mom’s of course!). Bulgur is cracked wheat, and it is a staple in Middle Eastern cooking and used in my household constantly. Many grocery stores do sell it, but not every one, and often it is only in one size. Bulgur comes in different sizes based on how course or fine you want it, usually numbered #1-4 at the store. I always get the #1 which is the most fine, but this size of bulgur really isn’t as fine as you’re probably thinking. It is still about as big as the size of regular couscous, not like powdered or granulated sugar. The size differences differ by brand I’ve come to find, but the bulgur #1 is my favorite for salads and most recipes I make.
Bulgur is also awesome because you can eat it cooked or uncooked and it tastes delicious both ways. You can soak it in water and eat it as is in a cold dish, or heat it up with any meal and serve it warm. It is so versatile and easy to prepare that once you start cooking with it, I promise you’ll be using it in so many recipes.
My personal favorite way to eat bulgur is to use it as a base for cold salads. For this, you just have to soak the bulgar in water for 10-15 minutes until the water is completely absorbed or until the bulgar is soft and chewy. Then you can add it to any dish and eat it immediately, no heat required.
As much as I love tabbouleh, I wanted to come up with another bulgur salad recipe that wasn’t so work intensive (tabbouleh does take a bit of time if you make it right). I love lettuce-less salads, and naturally I wanted to add bulgur to a new recipe, and so this one was formed. All of my favorite salad veggies together with a creamy lemony tahini sauce and of course, bulgur.
Lastly, the tahini. Tahini is much more commonly used now than in the past, and I am so glad. The flavor from the sesame seeds is so creamy and rich and makes for the perfect dressing in this recipe. You can find it at most grocery stores now, and of course at your local ethnic market. I usually make double or triple the recipe amount and save extra sauce in the fridge to top any dish for extra flavor. It is so good.
How it’s made, notes, substitutions
Here is the general how-to for preparing bulgur. Soak it in water for a minimum of 10-15 minutes. The water should be completely or almost completely soaked up by that time. The bulgur will be soft and chewy and that is when you want to get rid of excess water. With clean hands, take one handful of bulgur at a time and squeeze out the excess water. The bulgur will still be soft and delicious, but removing the excess water will avoid having soupy salads. You will be adding oil and a dressing, and having the excess water would make the salad too liquidy.
For the tahini sauce, you don’t need a blender or food processor, all you need is a small bowl and spoon. Mix up all of the ingredients together until nice and smooth, and make sure to taste. Sometimes I like to add a bit of extra garlic powder or lemon. Set this aside and start on your salad.
Rinse the beans, chop the veggies and mint, and mix everything in a large bowl. Once the bulgur is done soaking, add that to the salad and top with the tahini sauce. Mix everything together until all of the ingredients are nicely coated with sauce. And that’s it! Easy, quick, and so, so good. Hopefully you’ll find this easy and yummy bulgur salad delicious and fun to make!
Bulgur Veggie Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 1 can kidney beans rinsed clean
- ¼ cup mint chopped
- 4 Persian cucumbers chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes chopped in half
- ½ cup red onion finely chopped
- ½ cup bulgur
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup dill pickles chopped
- Juice of half a lemon
For the tahini dressing:
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon water
- Add the bulgur into a medium bowl and pour the water on top of it. Let the bulgur soak up the water for about 15 minutes. Set aside while you assemble the rest of the salad.
- Chop up the mint, red onion, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. Add these and the kidney beans to a large bowl and mix together.
- Back to the bulgur: after 15 minutes most of the water should be soaked up by the bulgur. There may be more water over the bulgur after 15 mins, and that is ok. With clean hands, take one handful of bulgur at a time, squeeze out the water into the sink or another bowl, then add it to the bowl with the other ingredients.
- To make tahini lemon dressing: Add the oil, lemon, salt and garlic powder to a small bowl and whisk together well, then add the water last. You may add more water if you like a thinner dressing, but I like it a bit thick for this one. Mix well, adding more water if needed to your desired thickness.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and mix everything together. Serve into two bowls if eating as a main dish, or as four smaller servings as a side dish. Enjoy!