In an alternate world, I’d be a backup singer.

Let the headliners take center stage! I’m captivated by the men and women who stand behind the stars, offering harmony and depth to the voices of the big names.

Melissa McCarthy

Besides, second fiddles have more fun. I’d much rather watch Melissa McCarthy as Sookie St. James (“Gilmore Girls”) or Megan Price (“Bridesmaids”) than as headliners Molly (“Mike & Molly) or “Tammy” (yawn).

Yep, let’s hear it for the backups — be they singers, actors or …

… ingredients.

I made a bulgur salad last night.

“Bulgur” is the marquee name. “Bulgur” is the star.

But bulgur is boring. It may get top billing on the recipe card, but it’s a pretty bland grain.

Add the right support, though, and that dish moves from ho-hum to something worth putting on your plate.

Because it’s summer and our herb garden is bursting, I filled our bulgur with all kinds of greens: Basil, tarragon, oregano and chives; lavender, rosemary and lemon thyme. The salad was nutty from the grains, savory from an olive oil and lemon dressing, and bracing from all of those herbs.

Everyone raved about my bulgur. But the background players made it sing.

bulgur with herbs

Second-Fiddle Bulgur Salad (With Herbs!)

This is the only way I prepare bulgur, thanks to an old recipe from Ina Garten. (Dare I call her my second banana?!?) Use it as a template when preparing the grain, then add whatever you like to your dish. You can buy bulgur in many different sizes. I prefer the finest, called cracked wheat.

  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup assorted herbs

Place the bulgur in a large bowl. Pour the boiling water over it, then add the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, then stir well. Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and let it sit until the grains have absorbed all the liquid (30 minutes to an hour).

Coarsely chop the herbs:

bulgur herbs

When no liquid remains in the bulgur bowl, gently fluff the grains with a fork:

bulgur plain

Stir in the herbs. Taste for seasoning, then serve immediately or refrigerate until you’re ready to eat.