In keeping with the Bittman-inspired, out-of-season theme, I present Bulgar Salad. In Food Matters, Bittman goes on and on about the benefits of eating whole grains — and not the sacks of brown bread from the grocery store. Bittman is talking about grains that have not been processed into flour — quinoa, barley, wheat berries, oats, and bulgar. My experience with these grains was limited to the dishes prepared by my more experienced, more wholesome friends, so I decided it was time to start experimenting.
I dogeared this page in Gourmet long before I read Food Matters and I wanted to make it for one simple reason — it looked cool. For the magazine, they peeled and grilled the mushrooms to make them look like buns and shaped the salad into patties — voila! Bulgar burgers! I loved the sound of it, I loved the picture, I wanted to make it for every cook out for the rest of my life — until I started peeling the mushrooms.
I annihilated one portabella cap after another. I had already given up by the time I tossed the fragments on my new, beautiful griddle. I dumped some bulgar on top of the cooked mushrooms, took a halfhearted snapshot, and shoveled the food into my mouth. This meal would have ended in tears had it not tasted so darn good.
My advice: grill and cut the mushrooms with the rest of the vegetables. It’s a beautiful salad even without the cutesy presentation. Also: make extra dressing. Eat it on everything.