Turkish Kisir Salad
(Bulgur wheat, fresh herb and walnut salad)
From Laura Di Lembo
Bulgur salads are ubiquitous in the Middle East. The Lebanese and the Syrians have tabbouleh; Turkish diners have tangy/sweet kisir, brightened and tinted a rosy hue by tomato paste and pomegranate molasses. For a pretty presentation, mound portions into cupped lettuce or endive leaves and sprinkle ruby pomegranate seeds over everything.
1 c. coarse bulgur wheat
1-1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 t. salt
1 c. walnut pieces, toasted, cooled and coarsely chopped
1/4 c. pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/3 c. chopped pitted dates
2 c. finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh mint
1 c. finely diced tomatoes, optional
1 c. finely diced cucumbers, optional
pomegranate seeds as garnish, optional
1/8 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. pomegranate molasses*
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 T. tomato paste
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander seeds
1/2 t. ground allspice
2 t. ground sumac*
1/2 t. Turkish or Aleppo chiles*
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
In a medium bowl, soak the bulgur in boiling water with the salt, covered, until tender, about 25 minutes. All the water should be absorbed. If it’s not, drain it well and spread it out to dry on a clean kitchen towel.
In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and zest, tomato paste, spices and salt and pepper. Pour half the dressing over the bulgur. Mix it in and let the bulgur absorb it for 20 minutes. Add the nuts, dates, parsley, dill, mint, tomatoes and cucumbers, if using, and the remaining dressing. Toss the salad ingredients together and garnish with pomegranate seeds, if you’re using them. The salad keeps well in the fridge for about 3 days.
* Pomegranate molasses is available at Green Cedars Food Mart and other Middle Eastern grocers and specialty food stores
* Sumac, Turkish (also called marash) and Aleppo chiles are available at Silk Road Spice Merchant and Hage’s Mideast Foods.