June 15, 2013

bulgur/chickpea salad with pistachio pesto

I have been on the Indian food kick lately, shopping at Indian grocery stores and experimenting with Indian spices. This dish is not Indian but has been inspired by my frequent shopping trips to the big Indian market in my neighborhood. They have an extensive selection of fresh produce and dry goods. At first, shopping there made me feel a bit challenged because there were quite a few items that I could not identify and had no idea how to use. I have realized that this is exactly how people feel when they first make the transition into a macro/veg diet (or any kind of diet for that matter): overwhelmed, confused and intimidated. But we must persevere, right?

So, to familiarize myself with the ingredients sold at the Indian market, I got this awesome book titled Vegan Indian Cooking by Anupy Singla, picked out a few recipes to try, made a shopping list and went back to the store. Here are some dishes that I made so far with great success. (I highly recommend the book, by the way.)

lentils with fresh curry leaves served with roti

Punjabi cabbage (I added kale, rutabaga and carrots for a twist!)

Baked samosa sticks with mint chutney

Okay, now back to my recipe: the bulgur/chickpea salad with pistachio pesto. All the ingredients were purchased at the Indian market (except for the optional ume vinegar, which is my pantry staple). This dish can be easily prepared gluten free by substituting bulgur for quinoa or rice.

 makes 3-4 servings
1/2 cup bulgur
1 cup water
pinches of salt

pistachio pesto (makes about 1 1/3 cups)
2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1 cup toasted pistachio (unsalted)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups of cooked chickpeas OR 1 can of chickpeas

1/2 cup pistachio pesto
1 tsp ume vinegar (optional, you can add some lemon juice and salt instead)
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks and blanched lightly
2 red radishes, cut into thin rounds
parsley for garnish
salt and pepper to taste


To cook the bulgur, bring the water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add bulgur and salt. Cover, lower the flame and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.

Prepare the pesto while bulgur is cooking. Place the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. This pesto is made thicker than your usual pesto. When storing the extra, put the pesto in a glass jar and pour some olive oil on top to cover. Yummy with pasta (my personal favorite is adding to orzo salad) and on toast, too.

Sprinkle ume vinegar on cooked bulgur. Add pistachio pesto and mix well. Fold in the cooked chickpeas, carrots and red radishes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary.

This salad is also great with quinoa used in place of bulgur. I love it with arugula!