I never would have guessed raw cabbage and cooked bulgur could be so tasty, and yet here I have my proof in Trader Joe’s Vegetable and Grain Country Salad.
Let us first commend this hearty and delicious salad as a study in the art of simple, elegant salad making. The salad is skillfully tossed together from 4 simple components – a bed of shredded cabbage, a scattering of garbanzo beans and a few select cherry tomatoes embedded in a dense field of moist bulgur. Raw shredded cabbage is ordinarily hard to make palatable, but in this instance it works as crispy counterpoint to the yielding, flavorful grain. Add a few choice spices, and you’re left with a rich, sumptuous salad that smells enticingly of the middle east and fills you up without weighing you down. It does, however, lead us to our first question. Bulgur – what is bulgur?
Bulgur. This is not a word the average American runs into on network TV or his daily paper. It sounds fashionable, in that return-to-the-past sort of way, maybe the sort of thing peasants in medieval Italy were stabbing Cypriots with pikes over. “Unload your mule of my bulgur, varlet” was probably a common cry somewhere at sometime.
In actual point of fact, bulgur is a Mediterranean crop – a high fiber grain, related to wheat but looking and feeling like couscous and with a lightly nutty flavor. If you’ve ever had tabbouleh, you’ve had bulgur, (a phrase which is as fun to say as it was to write). Bulgur is somewhat in vogue nowadays due to the fact that it cooks up like white rice, but with more protein and fiber, and a lower glycemic index.
This leads us to our second question. Where does Trader Joe’s get off calling this a salad?
Being made mostly of grain, it’s pushing the definition of salad further than normally tolerated. It would be just as accurate to call this a pasta dish with a side of shredded cabbage. Not to mention the absence of a salad dressing. Has there ever been an actual salad-type salad that you can eat without a dressing? Top scientists say no. Except maybe in the case of pasta salads, of which this is almost certainly one, which I suppose negates the entire point of this paragraph. Never mind, let’s move on.
Although possibly a bit unorthodox, there’s s nothing to regret about Trader Joe’s Vegetable and Grain Country Salad – simple parts that come together in a tasty, well-designed medley of refreshingly unusual tastes and textures and exotic smells.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, to anyone who is at all curious about salads or bulgur.
Would I But It Again: A little carb heavy as a salad, but tasty as a side dish, so yes.
Final Synopsis: A resounding yes to the question, “Does bulgur taste good as a salad?”