Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Experiments With New Foods: Bulgur

Let me clarify: I've had bulgur before, because I LOVE tabbouleh. I've just never cooked with it myself. For whatever reason, I've always shied away from buying it and have made tabbouleh at home with couscous. But the bulgur called to me, yesterday in Whole Foods from the bulk bins, and I decided now was as good a time as any to try my hand with it.

Bulgur is minimally processed wheat, so it counts as a whole grain, and is in fact more nutritious than brown rice. It is high in fiber, has six grams of protein per cup, and is really easy to prepare (to my relief.) While I found several different suggestions for how to cook it, I chose what I would call the "steaming" method. I added half a cup of uncooked bulgur to 1 cup of water and a little salt in a pan and brought it to a boil. As soon as it boiled, I turned off the heat, put the lid on the pan, and let the water steam and absorb into the bulgur, for 20 minutes. I drained off what little water remained (maybe 2 tablespoons) and it was ready to go into my tabbouleh.

Tabbouleh is one of the healthiest, tastiest salads you can make, and it comes together in a snap. By the time your bulgur is ready and has cooled off, all your other ingredients can be prepared. And what to do with leftover bulgur? I made it for breakfast for my daughter and I. I added a little milk, some raisins, and cinnamon and microwaved until warm. It was delicious, like a cross in flavor between oatmeal and Cream of Wheat. A nutritious ingredient (and pretty cheap, at $2.69 a pound) that makes a terrific meal at dinner AND breakfast? I'm sold!


  • 1/2 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 1 large or 2 small bunches parsley
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 small Persian cucumbers or 1/2 large hothouse cucumber (you can use regular cucumbers, but remove skin and seeds if you do)
  • 1 roma tomato (or more, I'm not a fan of raw tomatoes)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3tbs - 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Follow the instructions above to cook the bulgur, or if you have another method, feel free to use that. Let the bulgur cool, so it is warm or at room temperature.
  2. While the bulgur is cooking, chop the parsley. Use the leaves and the stems. I pulsed mine in the food processor and it came out great, but you can easily do this by hand. Finely slice the green onions, and dice the cucumber and tomato into 1/4-inch pieces.
  3. In a large bowl, add the parley. Stir in the onion, cucumber and tomato. Pour about 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the salad - you want everything coated, but you don't want a pool of oil in the bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a small bowl, juice the lemon, making sure to remove all the seeds. You can add the zest too (I did, just because I love it!) Stir into the salad and taste - if it's too acidic, add more oil.
  5. When bulgur is cool, mix into the salad. Let this marinate for an hour for the flavors to develop. This goes great with hummus and pita!

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