Bulgur Salad with Roasted Peppers, Capers, Raisins, Celery & Onions
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish, or more family-style, as part of a larger spread
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
¼ cup finely chopped Spanish or sweet onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup coarse (no. 3) bulgur
3 cups water
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons capers
3 pale inner stalks celery, thickly sliced
½ cup golden raisins
20 leaves fresh mint
¼ cup small, picked sprigs dill
4 small fire-roasted red bell peppers (see note below), home-roasted or store-bought, cut into strips
Small handful pale inner leaves from the celery heart
Put a saucepan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté gently until tender. Add the bulgur and stir over the heat for 2 minutes to toast slightly without burning. Add the water and a generous amount of kosher salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and remove from the heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a small pot of lightly salted boiling water, simmer the capers, celery, and raisins for 5 minutes. (This step hydrates the raisins, softens the celery, and soothes the strong briny flavor of the capers.) Drain and reserve. Roughly chop the herbs.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked bulgur, caper mixture, herbs, strips of pepper, and celery leaves. Season well with sea salt and cracked pepper and toss well with clean hands. Drizzle with a little olive oil and squeeze the lemon over. Toss again and taste.
Note: Using tongs or a long fork, hold a whole pepper directly in the flame of a gas stove, turning, until blackened and flaking all over. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 5 minutes. Slip off the skin, and remove seeds, white ribs, and stems.
It’s easy enough to roast red peppers, but to save even more time, you may substitute imported, fire-roasted peppers from a jar, packed in olive oil or brine. Whenever you use ingredients that are packed in a jar or a can, make sure they are of the highest quality. You don’t want to destroy a dish you’ve worked on by compromising its integrity with inferior products.