Bulgur wheat may not be the most common grain in the grocery store, but it’s about time we gave this whole grain a try. Bulgur starts with wheat berries, the raw, simplest form of wheat. These kernels are then hulled, partially cooked, and dried before packaging. Unlike wheat berries, which may take an hour or more to soften, bulgur is much more convenient since it has already been parboiled. In fact, prepare bulgur much like you would instant rice: bring bulgur and water to a boil, cover and simmer about ten to twelve minutes, fluff with a fork, and voila!
As a whole grain, bulgur is highly nutritious, rich in dietary fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals. At least half the grains we eat should be whole grain, making bulgur an excellent grain to keep on hand. Store bulgur in an air-tight container in the pantry and use within six to twelve months. Bulgur has long been used in Mediterranean cooking, and is most popular in Tabbouleh, a delicious Levantine salad seasoned with fresh herbs and lemon. Besides Tabbouleh, use bulgur in other grain salads or swap out the rice in many recipes and replace it with bulgur. Add bulgur to soups and casseroles, or use it as a binder in meatloaf, veggie burgers or meatballs. Bulgur is available in different grinds; the more fine the grind, the quicker it cooks. Next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a package of bulgur and start enjoying the great benefits it has to offer.
1 cup dry bulgur wheat
3 green onions, chopped
1 small cucumber, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup chopped herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, and/or mint
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice and zest 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Wash hands with soap and water. Follow package directions on cooking bulgur. If excess water remains, drain water. Add green onions, cucumber, tomato, and herbs to the cooked bulgur. Mix oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl. Add lemon mixture into bulgur and stir to combine. Excess dressing will be absorbed with time. Cover and refrigerate. Use within 3-4 days.
Yield: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 170 calories, 9 grams fat, 105 milligrams sodium, 21 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 4 grams protein
Recipe adapted from: Healthy Eats and Repeats, Tabbouleh with Bulger, Caitlin Mellendorf, University of Illinois Extension, June 2017
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.