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Blood Orange, Celery and Bulgur Salad

As spring finally begins to show herself in Chicago, I’m eagerly readying to the fact that tiny green leaves and vegetables will beckon me back to the kitchen. Because if January was a long, cold and dreary month, February and March were even more of challenge. The ground was frozen solid, not a fresh thing had grown in months, our winter farm share ended, and I was personally challenged with a low-iodine diet that made eating feel more like torture than pleasure. Now that’s over, and I’m glad April is here.

And while we welcome spring, those lovely peas and tender asparagus are still a few weeks away. So, I’ve had to improvise a transition to lighter, fresher food. I first made this blood orange, celery and bulgur salad for a pot-luck and loved the crunch of celery, the bright sweetness of ruby-hued oranges and the rich, toasted walnuts. In this salad, the bulgur becomes the connector, giving a bit of heft to an otherwise light meal. It’s perfect for lunch, or with chicken or fish for dinner, or maybe even in the summer with peaches or nectarines.

When I made this a few weeks ago, I had a coarser bulgur and liked the texture even more. This time, a finer bulgur overcooked a bit as I tended to the other components of dinner. Ideally, you would see more separation of the grains.

I do hope to get back to a regular posting schedule of once a week. Questions and comments are always welcome, and I hope to be cooking from a few new books and magazines this spring.

Blood Orange, Celery and Bulgur Salad

Inspired by the Moro East recipe on 101cookbooks.com

1/2 cup medium or coarse bulgur
3 stalks of celery, cut in thin slices on a slight bias
1 1/2 blood oranges, peel cut away and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

Put the bulgur in a bowl, add boiling hot water to just above the surface of the wheat and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes, until just tender but still quite al dente. (Underestimating the bulgur, mine overcooked a bit in the photos above.) Drain bulgur in a colander to remove excess water.

Combine bulgur, celery, oranges, walnuts, parsley and mint in a large bowl. Pour over the dressing (below), and taste for seasoning. Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately.

Blood-Orange Dressing:
Juice of 1/2 blood orange
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Serves 4.

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