Grain Bowl with Kale and Spiced Orange Dressing

This grain bowl made with kale, orange, bulgur, cabbage, pomegranate, and a blood orange dressing, boasts an array of tastes and textures and makes a healthy and surprisingly satisfying vegan meal.

Two bowls filled with the components to make a grain bowl with kale and spiced orange dressing.

Blood oranges have a distinct color and tartness that make them really stand out in a salad or dressing. Their season is short, though, so regular oranges are absolutely fine for the rest of the year. As with our other tabbouleh salads, the bulgur can be replaced by an equal quantity of quinoa, if you like, for a gluten-free alternative. If you do this, then cook the quinoa as you normally do—in a pan of boiling water for 9 minutes or so, and rinsed under running water. Set it aside to dry, then add the olive oil and spices.–Sami Tamimi & Tara Wigley

Winter Tabbouleh

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H, 10 M
  • 1 H, 10 M
  • Serves 8
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Ingredients

  • For the blood orange dressing
  • For the salad

Directions

Make the dressing

In a medium bowl, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon, allspice, molasses, and sugar with 1/8 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.

While whisking, slowly add the oil until thick and emulsified. 

Make the salad

In a medium sauté pan or skillet with a lid over medium heat, combine the bulgur, cinnamon, allspice, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, the boiling water, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan, remove from the heat, and let soak for 30 minutes.

Tester tip: This cooking method turns out bulgur that’s a little on the al dente side, which many folks like. If you prefer your grains more tender, then gently simmer the bulgur until the water is absorbed before removing it from the heat.

Remove the lid, fluff the bulgur with a fork, and let cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the kale with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and a tiny pinch of salt. Using your hands, mix well, gently massaging the leaves.

Into a very large bowl, add the cooled bulgur and the cabbage, parsley, mint, scallions, oranges, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and a generous grind of black pepper.

Tester tip: You can opt to finely chop or shred all the vegetables in a food processor to save time.

Mix well to combine, add the kale, and pour in the dressing. Mix just to combine, then arrange on a platter or individual plates. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and serve.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This grain bowl is a make-ahead beautiful salad—the rich contrast in color and variety of textures added layers of delight to this dish. I do love robust salads that last for more than a few hours without getting slimy in their dressing. This type of salad is amazing as a prep ahead dish for daily meals or for a larger gathering. I do think the dressing needs more acidity to really balance it out- perhaps it's just that the blood oranges I used were on the sweeter side. To balance it out, at service I added a splash of juice from some homemade pickled seasoning peppers, which added just the right sour-spicy kick to the mix. I also think a crumble of feta cheese would be absolutely perfect here.

The instructions are extremely simple and easy to follow. There is a fair amount of prep between washing and slicing up all the vegetables, cooking the bulgur, and whipping together the dressing. Even so, it is certainly not complicated and definitely worth the time spent for the time it saves in future meal prep.

The method for cooking bulgur was very easy and just right, leaving no excess water and perfectly tender grains.

This grain bowl is one of my favorite types of recipes: it was a delicious side for chicken and I'll have the leftovers for easy lunches this week. It took just over an hour to prepare, but was worth the time. The cinnamon and allspice add a wonderful warm flavor to both the bulgar and the dressing.

Pomegranate molasses can be very expensive (I was at Whole Foods rather than the international market and it was $12). I bought a bottle of pomegranate juice (for $4) and made my own (1/2 cup juice, squeeze lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sugar boiled down until syrupy).

There is no doubt that this grain bowl is both flavorful and a great diversion from more traditional tabbouleh dishes. The "winter" element is brought with the cold-weather produce (citrus and cabbage) and the pleasantly warming quality brought with the cinnamon and allspice. The flavors are fantastic, it held up for days (leading me to think it would be a great meal-prep meal for the workweek), and makes a great deal of volume in exchange for the time required.

That said, it DID require a lot of time to prepare. If you're serving this as a main, then you won't mind, but it's a lot of time to spend if you're using it as a side dish. Everyone who ate it wanted the recipe, until they heard how long it took and admitted they probably wouldn't make it themselves unless it was a special occasion. It can be made in advance, though, with no loss of quality, so that's a plus. My two biggest hurdles were the bulgur cooking method (which seemed both overcomplicated and resulted in barely cooked bulgur) and the texture of the overall salad. The size of the kale and cabbage pieces at times felt unwieldy and more like a kale and cabbage salad with bulgur. If I make this again, I will chop up the kale rather than shred it, and shred the cabbage rather than thinly slice it. Having the ingredients all the same size would make it easier to eat and encourage me to use the food processor to speed through the majority of the greens, drastically reducing the hands-on time.

The bulgar felt a little too al dente. Would recommend a more standard method of mixing the spices and oil with dry bulgur, covering with 1:1 ratio of boiling water, and then let it rest for 30 to 60 minutes to absorb the water. Lower maintenance and easier to execute.

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