Bulgur salad with spinach, tomatoes and herbs. (Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

Bulgur salad with spinach, tomatoes and herbs. (Photo by Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post)

This whole-grain salad can be served warm or chilled

Feta cheese adds a wonderful salty note to the dish, which goes well with grilled meat.

This vegetable-and-herb-packed whole-grain salad — whether it’s warm or chilled — has a flexibility that comes in handy with the changeable spring weather.

Served warm, it has a comfort appeal that’s welcomed on a colder evening; when chilled, it is filling yet refreshing, perfect for a sun-baked day. The recipe harnesses the heat of the just-cooked grain to temper the spinach and onion in the dish, toning down their rawness and softening them slightly.

The grain itself is bulgur, a form of whole wheat that has been boiled, cracked and dried for a unique, mild-toasty flavor and quick cooking. You are probably most familiar with it as the grain used in tabbouleh, and this salad has a similar sensibility.

Bulgur comes in different-size grains, from fine to coarse. Any variety works here. You could also substitute another whole grain such as farro or quinoa. After the mixture sits for a few minutes in a bowl, a generous helping of fresh parsley and dill is added along with a simple and reliably delicious dressing of extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice.

The salad is lovely and light just as it is, but it is also wonderful with a sprinkle of salty feta cheese. Serve it with roasted or grilled poultry or meat, or as a vegetarian main with the cheese and/or a handful of toasted nuts for protein.

Bulgur salad with spinach, tomatoes and herbs

This versatile bulgur and vegetable salad can be served warm for more comfort appeal, or chilled for a filling yet refreshing meal. Serve it with roasted or grilled poultry or meat, or as a vegetarian main with the cheese and/or a handful of toasted nuts for protein.

1 cup dried bulgur wheat (see note)

5 ounces (2 cups) lightly packed fresh baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped

¼ cup chopped red onion

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 cup quartered grape tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon finely grated zest and 1½ tablespoons juice (from 1 lemon)

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Cook the bulgur according to the package directions, or see the note, below.

Combine the spinach and onion in a mixing bowl. Once the bulgur is done, fluff it with a fork then add it to the bowl, tossing until incorporated. Let the mixture sit for about 3 minutes, until the spinach is slightly wilted and the grain is no longer steaming.

Add the parsley, dill, tomatoes, oil, lemon zest and juice and the salt and pepper; toss until well coated. Scatter the feta over the top, if using. Serve at room temperature, or chilled.

Note: To cook bulgur for this recipe, boil 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the 1 cup of bulgur. Once the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until tender. The yield is 2 to 2 ½ cups.

Makes 6 servings. Nutrition per serving: 130 calories, 4 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, no cholesterol, 125 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 1 gram sugar.

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