This healthy and hearty tuna bulgur salad with chickpeas and cucumbers is a a quick, no cook recipe for an easy dinner or lunch. Sometimes we love a good recipe that requires no use of a stove or the oven. All you need is a kettle or some other way to boil water, and that's it. This salad also contains no lettuce for you picky eaters out there, requires five ingredients only, and is amazing for meal prep. It's low calorie, it's healthy, it's yummy, it's kid friendly, and easy. It's one of my current favorite lunches to bring to work because of how easy and filling it is, and I am sure you will love it too.
What is bulgur?
Bulgur is parboiled grains of wheat, typically durum wheat, that's very commonly used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. The consistency and flavor is very similar to a coarse type of couscous. Bulgur is often used in dishes where you could also use couscous or rice. It has to cooked before serving, and can be served either plain as a side dish, or incorporated into a dish like this salad.
How to make this salad
First of, we have to cook the bulgur. In the recipe we use bulgur that's already cooked, so if you have leftover bulgur, you're already good to go. Cooking bulgur is ridiculously easy, and actually does not require any real cooking at all. All you need is to boil some water. I usually use my kettle, but you can use a saucepan or any other water boiling device.
Add your bulgur wheat to a bowl. Pour boiling water into the bowl so that it covers the bulgur completely, and reaches a tiny bit higher than the wheat. Cover with a tea towel and leave it for about 30 minutes. The bulgur will absorb the water, and the grains will become soft. It’s important to cover the bowl with a towel or some plastic foil, if not the top layer of grains will dry out. That’s it! Bulgur is done. I make my bulgur plain for this recipe, but you could also add some seasoning to the bowl with the water.
When the bulgur is done, add it to a salad bowl. Then, add diced cucumber, tinned tuna, tinned chickpeas, a bunch of chopped fresh basil, and mix it all together. I'm not a fan on salad dressings, so I serve this with a lemon wedge to squeeze some lemon juice on top, but you can also make a lemon pepper vinaigrette, or use your dressing of choice.
Tips and suggestions for the perfect tuna bulgur salad
Don't omit the basil! For the longest time when I was new to cooking, I would always omit fresh herbs from any recipe that I made. I figured it was a waste of money and that any dish would be fine without. Or I would just use a little bit of dry herbs as a substitute. The fresh basil honestly makes this dish. There is so much flavor in those little leaves, and it's what takes this salad from being a boring "whatever I found in the cupboard" meal to a full on glorious party on a plate. If you can't have basil, you can replace it with some fresh mint, which is completely different but also nice, but definitely don't omit the fresh herbs.
You can substitute the bulgur. Bulgur is an integral part of a tuna and bulgur salad (it's even in the name!), but you can substitute it for quinoa or couscous if that's more easily available to you. I have made this with leftover quinoa or leftover couscous in the past with great success. Quinoa is a great option if you want to add even more protein to the dish!
Storing this dish - meal prep info
This tuna bulgur salad is perfect for meal prep. As a completed meal, it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you want to prepare multiple meals, for example make enough portions for a full 5 day work week, I suggest you cook enough bulgur, which can be stored in a container for up to 5 days, and then add it to the other ingredients through the week while packing your lunch. This only takes two minutes in the morning anyway.
Enjoy this recipe? Check out these filling salads!
- Pasta salad with tuna
- Mediterranean chickpea salad
- Chicken and mango salad
- Smoked salmon and quinoa salad
- Sweet potato chickpea salad with kale and walnuts
- ... or browse all salad recipes
Tuna bulgur salad
- 200 g cucumber
- 145 g tin of tuna chunks in brine
- 150 g cooked bulgur or about 80 g uncooked
- ½ tin chickpeas based on a 400 ml tin
- fresh basil
- To prepare bulgur: add about 80g uncooked bulgur to a bowl, and add boiling water until it completely covers the grains and then some. Cover the bowl with a tea towel, and leave for 30 minutes until the water is completely absorbed.
- Dice the cucumber, and add to a salad bowl along with tuna chunks and cooked bulgur.
- Drain and rinse chickpeas, and add to the salad bowl.
- Finally, roughly chop some fresh basil, and add to the salad. Combine all the ingredients thoroughly.
- Serve as is, or with a vinaigrette or a squeeze of lemon juice.