Jennifer Aniston's Salad

While I would love to eat a BLT for lunch every day.... it is just a bad idea for your physical heart. Your emotional heart on the other hand will be really happy with you. In the spirit of my constant battle with bacon balance, I'm always looking for a quick little meal option. I was trolling Twitter a few weeks ago and saw this salad that Jennifer Aniston posted to Instagram

The salad itself looked pretty appealing but honestly, I was most drawn to the fact that Jennifer Aniston said it was "my perfect salad"... and since well, it looked pretty appetizing. She kindly listed out the ingredients which left me with few excuses. Despite the fact I consider my pantry well-stocked, I barely had any of the required ingredients to give this a shot. 

None of the ingredients in this salad are particularly weird - except maybe bulgar. I had never cooked with it before but it falls squarely into my Venn diagram of cooking fears. I'm especially bad at cooking grains appropriately, whipping egg whites, and picking the appropriate sized bowl. Thankfully, bulgar appears to be cooked kind of like a pasta slash cous cous situation. You don't have to freak out about excess water ... you just pour it out. Bulgar also has a refreshing texture for those of us that have gotten tired of quinoa and don't enjoy brown rice. You can find it in the bulk grain section of your grocery store. Easy stuff.

Side note: I stopped at the Charlestown Whole Foods on my way to yoga last week to get ingredients for this. After roaming the store unsuccessfully for free samples, I went to get a basket to shop more efficiently. Just as I was approaching the fresh herbs, I felt a MOUSE brush my arm and saw it LEAP to the corn cobs display. While I didn't exactly try to cause a scene, it was kind of shocking how some people did absolutely nothing... and only the bakery lady was concerned. She brought me a glass of water and insisted that I rest on a stool. It did feel a little weird to then have to pay my $13 for groceries... but whatever.

This salad is really easy to whip up and you can keep it in your fridge for a week if you don't put the dressing on it. I was a little suspect that it would be a bit bland but the salty feta cheese is a huge help. Next time I might add some chopped olives for a little more flavor... but that is really because my favorite flavor is salt. 

Here's how it goes. 
(Step 1) Go ahead and google how to cook bulgar. While you've got the bulgar cooking, you can prep everything else.

(Step 2) Chop the rest of the fresh ingredients (cucumber, mint, parsley, red onion). Add to a bowl. Rinse and drain a can of garbanzo beans. Add these to the bowl too. (See how easy this is?)

(Step 3) Once your bulgar is done, add it to the bowl and mix to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add in the feta. Use your judgement on how much you need. I need a lot because I love cheese and salt.

(Step 4) In order to keep the salad fresh, I didn't add any "dressing" until I was eating it. Maybe this had no impact on freshness - but a week later the salad still tasted great. After portioning out a serving, I just drizzled a little olive oil and champagne vinegar on each followed by a little bit of kosher salt.

Shopping List
This salad is really all about what proportions you want... and how much you want to make. Here is approximately what I went with.
1 cup Bulgar (before being cooked)
1/2 medium cucumber (11/2 cup chopped?)
mint - handful chopped
parsley - handful chopped
red onion - 1/2 cup chopped
feta - to your own taste
garbanzo beans - 1 can
pistachios (I skipped)
olive oil
champagne vinegar
salt

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