Bulgur Wheat Salad with Sardines, Pomegranate, and Pistachios

This was going to be a Five Minute Photo Shoot, but it ended up being so good I had to share the recipe.  I recently threw this dinner together from bits and bobs hanging around the fridge and pantry, in one of those moments of desperation when you’ve got a packed larder but how is it there’s not a single thing to eat, so you start pulling ingredients out to see if anything happens to go together, and miracle of miracles, a common thread emerges.

Sprung from the places where things sometimes go to die: bulgur wheat, a tin of sardines, a handful of pistachios, some fainting mint, pomegranate seeds, and the omnipresent half of a zested lemon.  Sumac and cayenne rounded out the Middle Eastern vibe impeccably, and dinner was served.

Yes, I had pomegranate seeds sitting around in my fridge.  Yes, they’re desperately out of season.  *Gallic shrug*

Bulgur Wheat Salad with Sardines, Pomegranate, and Pistachios
Makes 2 servings

I know sumac isn’t a very common ingredient, but it made this dish.  The earthy, lemony spice really tied all the flavors together; so if you can find it, it’s worth the search.  If not, I understand.

1 cup water
1/2 cup bulgur wheat (medium to coarse)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or to taste)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (from 1 lemon half)
1/2 teaspoon sumac, plus extra for garnish
Large pinch cayenne pepper
1 can sardines, packed in olive oil
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons toasted pistachios (chopped or left whole)
1 large sprig mint, leaves only, chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste

1.  Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add the bulgur and salt, and stir.  Return to a boil.  Cover partially, and reduce heat to maintain a simmer.  Cook for 10 minutes, or until bulgur is tender.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, prepare remaining ingredients.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, sumac, and cayenne.

3.  Lift the sardines from the oil, drain a bit on paper towels, and remove bones if necessary.  Using fingers, flake into large pieces into the bowl, and add remaining ingredients.

4.  Fluff bulgur with a fork, and stir lightly into the other ingredients.  Taste, and correct seasoning with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil as needed.  Serve warm, sprinkled with a generous pinch of sumac.