Spicy Bulgar salad with sweet peppers and pepper paste

Spicy Bulgar salad with sweet peppers and pepper paste. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times / April 24, 2013)

 

1 hour. Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

1 cup bulgur, medium (No. 2) or fine (No. 1) (about 5.5 ounces)

Salt

1 cup hot water

3 small green onions

5 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste, divided

1 brown onion (about 8 ounces), chopped (about 1 2/3 cups)

2 red bell peppers (about 1 pound), finely diced (about 2 2/3 cups)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 tablespoons Turkish-style pepper paste, preferably hot, or to taste

3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste, divided

Freshly ground pepper

Pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)

1 teaspoon dried mint

1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley (about ½ of a 4-ounce bunch)

1. Combine the bulgur and one-half teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Pour the hot water over the bulgur, cover and set aside until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is tender but still slightly chewy, about 15 minutes.

2. If the white ends of the green onions are thick, halve them lengthwise. Cut the white and green parts of the green onions in thin slices. You will need about one-third cup.

3. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped brown onion and the peppers and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Add the cumin, stir over low heat for 30 seconds and remove from the heat.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the pepper paste with 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice until blended. Whisk in 1 additional tablespoon lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add this dressing to the bulgur and toss with a fork to blend. Add pepper flakes if desired. Lightly stir in the sautéed vegetable mixture, followed by the mint, green onions and parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning; add more lemon juice and/or oil if desired. Serve the salad at room temperature.