You know those days when you open your fridge and find that there isn’t much in there. Or, prescription there’s plenty of food, but you’re not in the mood for any of it. Steak? Nah. Sausages? Nope. Pasta? Not again…
So you turn to your pantry and start poking around for something, anything, that seems appetizing. Last night, that happened to be a can of chickpeas, some bulgur and a bag of greens. Ah, a perfect summer salad. But I didn’t want a simple salad – that wouldn’t do. I wanted a salad that felt like a meal. Something hearty, but also refreshing.
The result was a chickpea and bulgur salad topped with a soft boiled egg and fresh, homemade breadcrumbs. I mashed half the can of chickpeas so that they’d hold together with the bulgur. Otherwise, those little suckers are impossible to get on your fork unless you chase them around your plate. Too much effort for a weeknight, really.
The breadcrumbs were a sort of ode to croutons. For some reason, whenever I try to make homemade croutons, I cut enormous chunks of bread and the salad ends up more like a panzanella. These breadcrumbs added a much more subtle crunch. And the soft boiled egg was perfect, coating everything with a glossy yellow richness that made the salad feel substantial and just a bit indulgent.
Cilantro and a lemony shallot vinaigrette brightened it all up for a delicious summer dinner.
Chickpea & Bulgur Salad with Soft Boiled Egg & Breadcrumbs
For the Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
pinch coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
1/4 cup bulgur
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 – 3 large handfuls of mixed greens
1/4 cup fresh, homemade breadcrumbs*
First, make the bulgur. One of my favorite time-saving tricks is to fill a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl with water and nuke it until itâ€™s almost boiling. Place the bulger in a fine mesh sieve and then drop it into the hot water for about 10 minutes. Once itâ€™s ready, simply pull the sieve out and press the bulgur to get rid of any excess water. Set aside.
While the bulgur is cooking, set a medium-sized sauce pan filled 2/3 with water over high heat. Once it comes to a rolling boil, add the eggs and let them cook for 4 minutes. (If you’re not into a runny egg yolk, you can cook them for about 7 minutes for a hard-boiled egg.) Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and run cold water over them for a minute, or place them in an ice bath. Lightly bang each one against a surface and carefully peel them. Set aside.
Now mash about half of the chickpeas with a big spoon or fork and mix with the remaining chickpeas. Stir in the bulgur and cilantro.
Make the salad dressing by whisking the ingredients together. You’ll only use about 1/3 of the amount the recipe above makes, but it keeps well in the fridge. Dress the greens with about 2 tbsp. of dressing, then dress the chickpea bulgur mixture with 2 tbsp. of dressing.
Assemble the salad. Layer the greens first, then the chickpea mixture. Top with a soft boiled egg and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Makes 2 large salads.
*To make homemade breadcrumbs, simply take a couple of slices of bread (I used a whole wheat, multi-grain ciabatta loaf), toast them, let them cool off and pulse them in the food processor a few times until they forms crumbs. Easy peasy.