Spicy Bulgur in Lettuce Cups (Kisir)
“If, like me, you relish food that you can eat with your hands, you’ll take great pleasure in assembling and eating these salad wraps. Originating from the southeast of Turkey, where pomegranate molasses is used to add a sweet-and-sour piquancy to food, this dish can be served from a large salad bowl, or you can nestle scoops of it inside lettuce leaves which, in my opinion, brings a bit of glamour to the party. Traditionally a hot pepper paste known as biber salçası is added to kısır; you can find it in Turkish grocery stores or online. It isn’t strictly essential, though, and you can always adjust the heat levels to your taste with chile flakes. Serve as part of a mezze spread or alongside grilled meats or fish.” —Yasmin Khan
1 cup fine bulgur wheat
1½ cups just-boiled water
3 green onions, finely chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, very finely chopped
1 small Persian cucumber, very finely chopped (about 3½ ounces)
large handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
½ cup walnuts
seeds of ½ medium pomegranate
2 baby romaine or Little Gem lettuces, leaves separated (optional)
For the dressing:
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, or to taste
4 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
1½ tablespoons tomato paste
½ to 1 teaspoon pul biber (Aleppo pepper), or to taste
1 teaspoon biber salçası (Turkish hot pepper paste, optional)
salt and black pepper
1. Place the bulgur in a large bowl and pour in the just-boiled water. Stir briskly, cover with a plate, and let steam for 10 minutes for the grains to soften.
2. Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Once the grains have absorbed the water, pour in the dressing and stir well to combine. Add the green onions, tomatoes, cucumber, and herbs.
3. Heat a small dry frying pan over medium heat and tip in the walnuts, toasting them lightly for 1 minute or so until they turn glossy. Transfer to a chopping board, finely chop them, then add to the salad.
4. Finally add the pomegranate seeds and mix everything together. Taste to adjust the seasoning (you may want to play around with the levels of pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, heat, and salt), then spoon into the lettuce leaves, if you like, and arrange on a large platter, or serve from the bowl as it is.
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