Bulgur Wheat Salad with Pink-Seared Lamb
This bulgur wheat salad is loosely based on tabbouleh, only using cilantro in place of the parsley, lime in place of the lemon and omitting the tomatoes and adding the chilli and some raw, diced zucchini. Cilantro is so much more headily aromatic than parsley that I’ve made the ratio to herb and grain skewed differently from traditional tabbouleh: that’s to say, this is an herb-flecked grainy salad, rather than an herb salad into which a few grains have been tossed. Because the bulgur wheat is so strongly flavored and aromatic you can leave the lamb as it is: no marinade, no nothing, just sweet and pink and warm against the green-flecked cracked wheat. If you want to serve the lamb on top of the salad, I find that two loins of lamb are plenty, but if you want to serve the meat on a separate plate, then I’d go for three. This may sound mad, but really it does seem to make a difference to how people eat.
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course
Taste and Textureherby, meaty
- Generous ½ pound (generous cup) bulgur wheat
- 2-3 lamb loins, approx. ¾ pound each
- Very large bunch fresh cilantro, weight of leaves, without stalks, approx. 2 ounces
- Large bunch fresh mint, weight of leaves, without stalks, approx. 1½ ounces
- 6-8 scallions
- 1 fresh green chilli
- 2 small or 1 medium zucchini
- Juice of 4-5 limes
- 8 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Following the package instructions, cover the bulgur wheat with water and leave to steep as directed.
Either on a griddle or in a frying pan, sear the lamb over high heat, and then turn down and let cook for about 10 minutes, by which time the meat should still be a soft, velvet pink within. When cooked, set aside until the salad is ready; you want the lamb warm rather than hot, in any case.
Now back to the salad. Chop the cilantro and mint. If you promise not to run it for long, you can use the food processor. Avoid reducing the herbs to wet mush: it’s better to have the leaves left relatively large. Finely slice the scallions and seed the chilli and chop it very finely, too. Take half the zucchini and peel it and dice it into very small pieces.
Drain the bulgur wheat in a sieve when it tastes tender and push and squeeze as much water out as possible. Pour over the juice of 4 limes and all the olive oil. Add salt and pepper and toss well, either with your hands or a couple of forks. Reserve a small handful of the chopped cilantro and mint and throw the remainder of the chopped herbs, chilli, scallions and zucchini into the dressed bulgur wheat and mix deftly. Taste to see if you need more lime juice (or indeed anything else). Arrange on the biggest dish you can find and then thinly slice the lamb and place it on top, in the center. Get the vegetable peeler and shave thin slices from the remaining zucchini and scatter these, along with the handful of reserved herbs, on top.
2003 Nigella Lawson