Every now and then I have the opportunity to pick up a teaching gig at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, where I did my pastry chef-training. I began teaching classes there about 7 months after graduating, and I still cannot believe that they pay me to hang out with a bunch of food-nerds like myself for 3 or 4 hours, show them where things are in an incredibly well-equipped kitchen, while these (usually quite capable) people prepare the menu for the day, after which we all sit down to eat, chat about food, and let the nice dishwashing folks clean up. Seriously, I really don’t know how I got so lucky. Okay so I have to wear a really ridiculous chef’s hat and some kitchen clothes that don’t exactly scream ‘sexy’, but hey, it’s a job, not a fantasy.
This past weekend I was teaching a class called ‘Vegetarians Unite’ to a nice group of students and was asked one of my favorite questions: What kinds of things do you like to cook?
I know some people don’t like having to pick favorites, and being asked such a question when you are (deservingly or not) in some sort of position of authority in the kitchen-realm puts on the pressure. However, I am always thrilled when someone shows an interest in…well, in my interests (I think that’s pretty human). I believe, in fact, that my face lit up and I clapped my hands with joy when she asked and everyone started laughing (at me or with me, I’m still not sure).
At any rate, this bulgur salad is a new favorite for the warm-weather months, and not only is it very delicious, it is also simple, simple, simple. What could be better? If you have not yet become well-acquainted with bulgur you will be pleased to know that it is far easier to work with than a lot of the other mysterious grains in your health-grocer’s bulk bins, because it requires absolutely no cooking. Bulgur needs to be soaked for about an hour, but you can use that time to prep the rest of your meal. Also, you can soak your bulgur at room temperature for 20 minutes, and then add whatever dressing it with, and leave that in your fridge during your work day or overnight.
Ari’s Southwestern Bulgur Salad with Ricotta Salata
2 cups dry bulgur (medium coarseness)
3 medium tomatoes, or 6 cocktail tomatoes, finely chopped
3 ears fresh corn, boiled for 4 minutes, then sliced off of husk
3 scallions, finely chopped (greens and just a little of the whites)
1-2 roasted anaheim or poblano peppers, seeds removed, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
ricotta salata (or any slightly salty, firm white cheese, I like salata because it is made with sheep’s milk), cut into small cubes, optional
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1 lime
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Soak your bulgur in a large bowl with enough water to cover by an inch or two for 40 minutes. Drain off any excess water and mix in chopped tomatoes and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to 12 hours.
Mix in remaining veggies and beans, and then add the lime juice and about 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle cheese over the top. Enjoy!