What is bulgur anyway?  Bulgur is made from whole wheat that’s been soaked and baked to speed up the cooking time.  It’s especially popular in the Middle East, where it’s used to make tabbouleh and pilafs.  Bulgur comes either whole or cracked into fine, medium or coarse grains.  You could substitute quinoa or wheat berries for the bulgur.  Quinoa works well in this dish but the wheat berries need to be cooked longer.  Whole kernels are steamed or parboiled and then cracked into small pieces.  This process softens the wheat without removing the fiber-rich bran or the nutrient-rich germ.
Bulgur has a pleasantly mild, nutty flavor.  It is the chief ingredient in Middle Eastern tabbouleh and makes an excellent quick cooking replacement for rice in pilafs and casseroles.  The following are also a few more tips on using bulgur.
•  Look for a medium grain bulgur or fine.  Avoid coarse-grain bulgur, because it has to be cooked too long.
•  Cracked wheat is not a good substitute for bulgur.
•  Try using it for a hot breakfast ceral.  Treat as you would oatmeal.  
The following recipe is a great cold dish for use as a side for bbq’s or with fish, pork, chicken dishes.  I had a piece of yellow fin tuna and decided to grill it and serve with the bulgur.  Be sure you pay attention to the note in the recipe about chilling it for a couple of hours or overnight.  I have used it right after preparing, however, it really tastes better after a few hours. I have also made it with red bell pepper instead of cucumber.  It’s still delicious.  But the cucumbers give it a really nice fresh taste.
So here goes the recipe. This is a serving for 2 but I have also included in paranthesis a serving for 1.  Keep in mind that 1 cup of dry bulgur yields about 3 cups of cooked.
2/3 cup (1/3 cup) medium grain bulgur
2 to 3 cups (1 to 2 cups) water
1/8 teaspoon (pinch) salt
2 tablespoons (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
1 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) olive oil
1/2 cup  (1/4 cup) finely chopped fresh parsley, flat leaf
1 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) finely chopped fresh mint
1 clove (1/2 clove) minced garlic
1 (1/2) green onion, sliced including green part
1 medium (1/2 medium) tomato, cubed
1/2 cup (1/4 cup) cubed cucumbers
1/4 cup (2 tbsp) feta cheese, crumbled
In a small saucepan, combine the bulgur, water and salt; bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, keeping in  mind that you may need to add that 3rd cup of water (2nd cup if cooking for 1) to the bulgur to cook it completely.  Just keep your eye on it.  You don’t have to cover it.  Cook until tender and then fluff with a fork and turn it into a mixing bowl to cool for 10 minutes.
Add the lemon juice, oil, parsley, mint and garlic.  Toss well.
Add the green onion, tomatoes, cucumbers to the bulgur.
Cover the tabbouleh and chill for several hours or overnight to blend the flavors.  Serve sprinkled with the feta cheese.
Per serving:  321 calories; 13.8g fat; 5.3g saturated fat; 25mg cholesterol; 468mg sodium; 10.9g protein; 42.8g carb; 12.4g fiber.  The serving is a generous 1 1/2 cups.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Bulgur mixed with lemon juice, oil, parsley,mint and garlic. Other ingredients waiting to join the fun!!
Tabbouleh and Yellow Fin Tuna. The sauce on the fish is a Roasted Pepper Sauce.
Medium Grain Bulgur before it is cooked.
Mise en Place.  Makes it easier to put together.
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