Warm Bulgur Salad with Grilled Salmon, Cucumbers and Mint

Normally I steer away from Family-Friendly-Weeknight-Fast-Only-15-Minutes headings in magazines. It’s not that I’m against any of those sentiments – not at all!  It’s just that if there is a can of artichoke hearts involved or a jar of marinara sauce or a bag of frozen pizza dough, I worry that the resulting dish really won’t be delicious enough. You don’t have to take so many short-cuts to eat well quickly.

Today was really busy though, and I knew I wouldn’t be home until 5:30. I wanted to eat something fresh, easy and fast (all those buzz words!) that I would be able to put together in 1/2 an hour or less – no crazy chopping, no long marinating, nothing like that. So I found myself flipping through the “Family-Friendly-Fast” section of a magazine. Here I found “Minty Bulgur Salad with Salmon and Cucumbers”. It looked promising and turned out to be delicious. As always, I steered away from the finickier parts.  The author would have you cool the salmon and bulgur in the fridge after cooking – not for me! I say it’s more delicious, more flavorful and – dare I say – more elegant to serve it just barely warm.

On the side, we had beautifully charred, salt and pepper-y grilled asparagus.

Warm Bulgur Salad with Grilled Salmon, Cucumbers and Mint

  • 1 tbsp delicious green olive oil, or more to taste
  • 1 1/4 pounds salmon fillet
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups bulgur
  • 1/2  an English cucumber
  • 10-12 small tomatoes
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, larger leaves torn
  • 1/2 cup thin slivers of red onion
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • good red wine vinegar to taste
  1. First, boil a kettle of water. While the water is boiling, put the bulgur into a medium sized heat proof bowl. Pour three cups of boiling water over the bulgur, briefly stir and leave to sit for 25 minutes (or more if you’re not quite done with the other parts of the recipe.  It shouldn’t take much longer than that though.)
  2. Put the red onion slivers in a small bowl with cold water to cover.  Add a splash of vinegar and set aside.
  3. Thinly slice the cucumber and halve the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Heat up the outdoor grill or your grill pan. Season the salmon with 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper. Spray or brush generously with olive oil. If the grill is gas, set the heat to direct medium. With a grill pan, medium high on the stove should be right.  You want to get that grill or pan good and hot – then things won’t stick to it. Lay the salmon flesh side down. Grill for 7-8 minutes on the flesh side. The general wisdom will tell you that salmon fillet is done when you cook it 5 minutes each side – but that is not really the case.  After 5 minutes on a non-stick surface, salmon will cling to the pan or the grill with a vice-like grip.  You could try to flip it but the whole crisp and grill marked surface will be ruined. BUT! if you wait another minute or two, carefully lifting an edge with a thin metal spatula, the filet will slide right off like a slipper and you won’t have mangled the grill marks.   7-8 minutes on the flesh side, 3 on the skin side – that’s how you grill perfect salmon.
  5. As the salmon is grilling, drain the bulgur and the onions. Toss bulgur with the olive oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and mint. You can flake the salmon and toss everything together on a large platter or serve larger pieces of the salmon over the warm salad, which is what I did.

Grilled Asparagus

The thicker variety is best here – the pencil thin asparagus just falls through the grate and also becomes terribly mushy. Conveniently, the asparagus cooks at the same temperature and for nearly the same time as the salmon!

  • 1 lb asparagus, washed and woody ends snapped off
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Toss the asparagus with 2 tsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  2. Grill for 6-8 minutes on direct medium heat, flipping once.
  3. Serve.

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