Springtime Bulgar Salad

It's an obvious statement but one of the positives of our 365-day challenge is the (forced) opportunity to try different ingredients instead of relying on the old familiar standbys. This time last year, if I had been looking to make a side dish for salmon, I likely would have resorted to rice just out of habit because I know everyone in the family likes it. Now, however, I'm more likely to think of something like quinoa, couscous or another grain. The salad for today, in fact, was originally intended to be a farro salad but I couldn't find it in the four stores I searched. Normally I would have kept looking but Carole and I had just finished our final 20-kilometre training walk, before our big event this Sunday, and my feet were blistered and a little tired so I decided I could turn to bulgar instead and nobody need know the difference. I will shoot for finding farro sometime before my salad month ends.

The bulgar was a light, nutty, healthier alternative to rice and nobody pushed away their plate so that's always a good sign. This dish ended up being a combination of several recipes since it sounded good to add cooked chickpeas, nuts and berries, as suggested by various authors. Next time, I'll make sure to choose vegetables that stay relatively crunchy during roasting, like the asparagus and carrots, and perhaps skip the peppers, which got a big mushy even though I was keeping an eye on them.

Springtime Bulgar Salad

serves four as a side dish

an assortment of vegetables, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used asparagus, carrots, red onion and yellow, orange and red peppers)

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup bulgar

juice of one lemon

1 cup cooked chickpeas

some toasted almonds

some dried cranberries

Toss veggies with some olive oil and salt and pepper on a baking sheet and roast in oven at 425 degrees, for about 20 minutes, until veggies are tender but not mushy.

Meanwhile, boil two cups of water, then add bulgar and cover and reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes or until water is absorbed. Toss with the roasted vegetables and chickpeas, add lemon juice and top with the nuts and berries.

Rest of the week

May 8 Mother's Day dinner out at Relish

May 9 Grilled maple salmon with bulgar salad