Cajun bulgur salad with kidney beans

by Katie on May 30, 2011

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On this Memorial Day, we continue our mini-theme of grain-based salads, those wonders that can double as a meal yet are also perfect for potlucks. I served this cajun-inspired salad last Sunday at the NOLA Veggie Fest, so for those of you I met who asked me for this recipe, I’m happy to share it now. (Last week I shared the recipe for tropical quinoa and black bean salad, which I brought to the fest on Saturday.)

A couple things. First: bulgur. Bulgur is an awesome whole grain (it’s a form of wheat) that a lot of people have not heard of – but I’m seriously on a mission to change that. I first wrote about bulgur here when I made red lentil balls. I’m always looking for ways to diversify my diet, and cooking up some bulgur, instead of rice or some other grain you might normally have, is a great way to do that. You can use a ratio of 1 cup bulgur to 2 cups water, or even add more water (say, an additional half cup of water) if you like it fluffier. I usually just simmer it for 5 minutes, covered, and then turn the fire off and let it sit for another 25 minutes for it to finish cooking on its own. The bulgur will soak up all the water.

Also: a word about the spices. This recipe calls for a Cajun spice blend, and there are a million types of Cajun spice blends out there. If you’re curious, the kind I used was from Penzey’s. It doesn’t matter a whole lot which kind you use, as long as it’s got a flavor you like. The thing I’d caution you about when purchasing Cajun spice blend is to avoid what they call Cajun “seasoning.” That’s mostly just salt and pepper with a few spices thrown in. For a good Cajun spice blend, paprika should be the main ingredient.

And you’ll notice that I call for smoked paprika. Smoked paprika is, well, special. It’s very different from regular paprika or “sweet” paprika. I treasure my little tin of it because it adds so much depth of flavor to whatever you use it in. While I purchased mine at the Williams Sonoma at the mall, I’m happy to report, for my New Orleans-based friends, that the Rouses on Tchoupitoulas Street now has a fancy spice section to the right as you walk in, where smoked paprika is available for a few bucks. Get thee some. It will rocket-propel your cooking up about ten notches.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jocelyn May 30, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Hi Katie! Leon and I were talking about Cajun spice blend this weekend! I knew you’d know! Hope all’s well!
Love you a bunch!
Mom

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Katie May 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Hi Mom! Regarding spice blends, a do-it-yourself blend is totally possible too. I start with paprika and throw in some chili powder, cumin, coriander, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, herbs such as oregano, and whatever else strikes me. A dash of cayenne too. I make extra so I can use it in multiple dishes. But pre-made blends certainly make things easier.

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Beth June 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I was really excited to find your blog. My husband and I switched to a plant based diet almost 6 months ago and we love it. Your recipes and tips are so helpful.
I fixed this Cajun Bulgur Salad a couple of days ago and it was wonderful. I reduced the vinegar in the dressing to 1-1/2 T (my husband’s not a big fan of vinegar) and it was a perfect meal for a hot summer day.

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Katie June 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Hi Beth, I’m so happy to hear that. I love this salad too and enjoy hearing how readers modify the recipes. Thank you for your comment!

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