By Aine Carlin | June 13, 2011

Photo: Aine Carlin

Summer is here (not that you’d know it from the dreadful state of the weather) and for me that means lots of salads, cold dishes and easy eats that involve minimal preparation. Fresh and light is the order of the day but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t pack a punch in the taste department. In this recipe the addition of peppery radish and zingy scallion allow this simple dish to shine while the combination of crisp watermelon and perfectly crunchy lightly toasted pepitas (that’s pumpkin seeds to you and me) take this bulgar wheat salad from predictable to being a real talking point.

Photo: Aine Carlin

It all started with the watermelon. I found it as I was browsing the goods at my local fruit and veg shop and was immediately ecstatic, as watermelon is a rare treat in these parts. Even though I adore eating sliced watermelon (bliss!) I knew I had to use this one in a slightly unconventional manner.
I’ve recently taken to adding fruit to many of my lunchtime salads – it’s becoming a serious habit of mine. My favourite so far has been the inclusion of sliced pear atop a brown rice affair, drizzled with a wholegrain mustard dressing, which I’d sweetened with agave. Divine.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Adding the watermelon to this salad just made sense. You see, the crucial thing about cous cous or bulgar wheat salads is to have a variety of textures. There is a danger of such dishes being bland and boring but a small twist is all it takes to transform it from conventional to kooky and as you might have guessed from some of my previous recipes such as my Sweet Potato and Kiwi Soup, I’m all about the kooky. If I can enhance a recipe by including an atypical ingredient I will and this salad was no different.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Every element of this salad make my heart and tastebuds sing (although I generally try not to sing with my mouth full – very bad manners!) and I can’t think of a better way to welcome bbq season and, in my humble opinion, the absolute bestest (who cares about grammar) time of year. All we need now is that sun!

Photo: Aine Carlin

  • 1 cup bulgar wheat
  • 7-8 radishes
  • 3 spring onion/scallions
  • 1 small stick of celery
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup chopped and deseeded watermelon
  • zest of 1 lemon or lime
  • juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper


1. Place the bulgar wheat in a bowl and cover with 1 cup of freshly boiled water. Cover the bowl with a plate or some clingfilm and allow to stand for at least ten minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Allow to cool uncovered.

2. Finely slice the radishes and spring onions. Cut the celery into tiny pieces. Set aside.

3. De-seed the melon and cut into small pieces.

4. Zest and juice the lemon.

5. Heat a dry frying pan/skillet and lightly toast the pumpkin seeds until crunchy and paler in colour. Move frequently to avoid burning them. Transfer to a small bowl and leave to cool completely.

6. When the bulgar wheat has cooled sufficiently, add all the ingredients including the lemon/lime juice. Season generously, pour over the oil and the vinegar.

7. Toss in the toasted pumpkin seeds. Taste and season further if necessary. Serve.

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