Warm Bulgur Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Oranges

Susan from Food Blogga 

Serves 4

Salad:
1 cup uncooked medium coarse bulgur wheat
4 small beets, roasted and sliced
1 cup sliced green beans
1/2 cup diced fennel bulb
2 medium navel oranges, peeled, sectioned, and chopped
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons toasted walnuts, pecans, or pistachios

Warm Fennel-Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette:
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or from a carton)
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cut off beet tops, and clean beets. (If you’re keeping the beet greens; submerge in cool water to release any dirt, then drain. Par-boil the greens by dropping them in boiling water for about 1 minute; remove and plunge into a bowl of ice water.) Shocking the greens like this will maintain their vibrant color. Drain, and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

To roast the beets, wrap them in foil and place in a 400 degree oven for about 1 hour, or until tender when pricked with a fork. Let cool slightly; rub off skins. (You might want to wear gloves and an apron for this part). Slice and set aside.

To make the bulgur, add 1 cup uncooked bulgur and 2 cups water to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, then simmer with the cover on for about 10 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed and the bulgur is cooked (it should retain some firmness).

Meanwhile boil the string beans for 2-3 minutes, then plunge into a bowl of ice water. Drain and slice into 1-inch long pieces. Chop fennel and slice oranges; set aside.

To toast the walnuts, place in a small, dry skillet over medium. Shake pan handle to ensure even toasting, for 1-2 minutes or until slightly toasted and aromatic.

To make the vinaigrette, place anise seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium. Shake pan handle to ensure even toasting, for 1-2 minutes or until slightly toasted and aromatic. Add all other ingredients to skillet and keep over a low heat for about 1-2 minutes, whisking until well emulsified. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the cooked bulgur, vegetables, oranges, chickpeas, and nuts. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss gently until well coated. Sprinkle individual servings with toasted nuts and extra fresh minced rosemary, if desired.