Bulgur, What Is It?

If you are someone who is always interested in quick, healthy menu ideas, bulgur is a food worth trying. Arab, Israeli, Egyptian, Chinese and Roman people have been using this grain for centuries. Bulgur is a good source of fibre, B vitamins, and vitamin E.

Bulgur consists of whole wheat kernels that have been boiled, dried, and crushed. It can be red or white and comes in a variety of textures. Bulgur differs from cracked wheat in that it has been pre-cooked.

Bulgur is sold in supermarkets, in bulk food and health food stores. It is often packaged in bags or boxes and sold as a pilaf , “tabbouleh” or “tabouli” mix. If you are having trouble finding bulgur, try the pasta, rice, and hot cereal or specialty food aisle of your store.

Here are some tips for using bulgur:

  • Don’t wash or rinse bulgur before cooking.
  • Avoid lifting the lid or stirring while cooking.
  • Bulgur can be prepared either by soaking (e.g.. for salads) or cooking (e.g., for casseroles).
  • To soak bulgur, add twice as much hot liquid as bulgur, stir, let stand covered for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
  • When soaked or cooked, bulgur will increase in volume by two times or more, depending on the amount of liquid present.
  • Bulgur can be added to a variety of dishes including meatloaf, soups, stews, casseroles and sauces.
  • Bulgur can also be added to salads, waffles, pancakes, muffins and other baked goods to add a nutty flavor.

Here are some recipes to try:

Wheat-Nut Pilaf

(Serves 4)

1 tsp cooking oil 5 mL
3/4 cup dry bulgur 175 mL
1 cup beef or chicken broth or bouillon 250 mL
2 medium carrots, shredded 2
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, cashews or almonds 50 mL

In a heavy saucepan, heat oil, add bulgur and sauté 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth, carrots and salt; bring to a boil. Cover; simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Fluff and stir in nuts just before serving.

YIELD: 4 servings.

Tabouleh

1 cup dry bulgur 250 mL
1 1/2 cups water 375 mL
1 bunch green onions, chopped 1
1 cucumber, diced 1
3 tomatoes, seeded 1
1 bunch parsley 1
Dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil 125 mL
1/2 cup lemon juice 125 mL
1/4 tsp salt 1 mL

Add bulgur to water and bring to a boil; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand covered 5 minutes. Mix vegetables with cooked bulgur.

Blend oil, lemon juice and salt and combine with bulgur mixture. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

YIELD: 7 servings.

WRITTEN BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITIONISTS OF SASKATCHEWAN

Originator: Tammy Shakotko

References:

The American Dietetic Association’s complete Food and Nutrition Guide, Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, CFCS, Chronimed Publishing, Minneapolis, Copy Right 1998.

“Bulgur in the Middle East and Canada,” Michelle Marcotte, Food Consultant, Agriculture Canada, October 1983

“Focus on Food: Bulgur Basics,” American Institute for Cancer Research Newsletter, Summer 1997, Issue 56.

“Grains of Truth About Bulgur,” Wheat Foods Council,http://wheatfoods.org/got/bulgur.htm

Nutrition – Wheat Products, http://wbc.agr.state.mt.us