Natural Foods To Discover: Bulgur

Nutritional properties and recipes with bulgur

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By Max Bender

bulgur

Bulgur is an ingredient everyone should discover sooner or later. Bulgur comes from wheat: its groats are steamed first, and then left to dry. Afterwards, they are minced and divided in smaller pieces.

Unlike the more common cous cous, that comes from a slow processing of durum wheat semolina in water, the bulgur is the groat of the wheat steamed and crushed.

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You can find different kind of bulgur on the market (known also as Bulghur or Bulghul). You can also find it in both small pieces or bigger pieces, that adapt diversely according to the kind of dish we are making.

Where is Bulgur most used?

As known, Bulgur is an ingredient that is used mostly in the Middle East: Turkish cuisine, Syrian, but also Armenian and basically all the coutries belonging to the southern Mediterranean basin.

For instance, in Turkey, where bulgur is extremely popular, it is divided between pilavlik bulgur (which is a thin size) and köftelik bulgur, which is the thickest size of the bulgur. It is also used to replace pilaf rice when served with steak.

Benefits of bulgur

This grain has so many advantages. There are at least ten benefits of bulgur worth mentioning:

  • Rich in Nutrients: Bulgur is a good source of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It contains significant amounts of iron, magnesium, and B-vitamins.
  • High in Fiber: It is rich in dietary fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health. Fiber helps prevent constipation, promotes regular bowel movements, and may contribute to a feeling of fullness, aiding in weight management.
  • Low in Fat: It is naturally low in fat, making it a healthy option for those looking to reduce their overall fat intake. It’s a good choice for heart health and weight management.
  • Protein Content: This whole grain contains a moderate amount of protein, which is essential for muscle repair, growth, and overall body function. It can be a valuable protein source, especially for individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets.
  • Low Glycemic Index: This nutritious grain has a lower glycemic index compared to many refined grains. Foods with a lower glycemic index are associated with slower and steadier rises in blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial for managing diabetes and promoting stable energy levels.
  • Versatility in Cooking: It is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. It can be cooked and served as a side dish, used as a base for salads, soups, or stews, and even used in baking.
  • Quick Cooking Time: One of the practical benefits of this ingredient is its quick cooking time. Unlike some other whole grains that require longer cooking, it can be ready in about 10-15 minutes, making it a convenient option for busy individuals.
  • Economical: It is often more affordable than some other whole grains, making it a cost-effective choice for those on a budget.
  • Promotes Satiety: The combination of fiber and protein in this amazing grain can help promote a feeling of fullness, which may be beneficial for those looking to manage their weight.
  • Heart Health: The abundance of fiber, vitamins, and minerals contributes to heart health by helping to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Nutrition Facts of Bulgur

Its characteristics are a lot alike whole wheat: very good ratio between the fibers, B Vitamin, potassium and phosphorus.

Traditional turkish bulgur pilaf with tomato sauce
Traditional Turkish bulgur pilaf with tomato sauce.

What to prepare with Bulgur and how to make it

To make a good dish with this ingredient, you just simply need to put it to soaking for about 20 minutes so that it can rehydrate: after that, it needs to be cooked in water (the volume of water has to be twice the volume of the bulgur) for 15 minutes and then left to hydrate 10 more minutes in its cooking water.

Once it’s drained, it can be consumed either hot or cold. Great dishes you can make with this ingredient include salads, tabbouleh (only with thin sized pieces), soups (Hot or Chill).

Let’s see a couple of recipes, now.

Recipes with Bulgur

This is a versatile and nutritious grain that can be used in various dishes. Here are a couple of recipes featuring bulgur:

Tabbouleh Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fine bulgur
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place the bulgur in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Cover and let it sit for about 30 minutes until the bulgur is tender and has absorbed the water.
  2. Fluff the bulgur with a fork and let it cool to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked bulgur, parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  5. Pour the dressing over the bulgur mixture and toss to combine.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Bulgur-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients:

  • 4 large bell peppers, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 cup coarse bulgur
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the bulgur, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the bulgur is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, sauté until softened.
  4. Add the zucchini, cherry tomatoes, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Combine the cooked bulgur with the vegetable mixture. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  6. Place the bell pepper halves in a baking dish and fill each with the bulgur-vegetable mixture.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
  8. Optional: Sprinkle feta cheese over the stuffed peppers during the last 10 minutes of baking.
  9. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.

These recipes showcase the versatility of bulgur and offer a combination of flavors and textures.

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