Bulgur, made from wheat kernels that have been cooked, dried and crushed before packaging, has a nutty flavor and chewy texture. It's a good source of protein, dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates, making it a more healthful choice than white rice and refined grains. Often used in bread, soups, salads and pilafs, bulgur can be added as an ingredient in meatballs, meatloaf or even desserts.
Where to find it
Bulgur is available in natural food stores, Middle Eastern specialty grocers and traditional grocery stores such as Kroger and Martin's. Bassam Abed, general manager of the Mediterranean Bakery and Deli (9004 Quioccasin Road, 754-8895), says the store sells it in bulk as well as in prepared foods such as tabbouleh and kibbeh, a meat dish that combines bulgur with ground beef or ground lamb.
"Bulgur is the ancient fast food," Maria Speck, author of the new cookbook Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, told The Boston Globe in a recent interview. Because it is precooked, it can be prepared quickly for meals. Biblical and archaeological references indicate the use of bulgur 4,000 years ago in the Middle East, and its use in China is traced to 2,800 B.C.
Contributed by Martin Gravely, program coordinator of the University of Richmond's Center for Culinary Arts, part of UR's School of Continuing Studies. He says, "Tabbouleh is a great way to introduce a ‘good carb' into one's diet and is simple to make. It is a terrific, refreshing summer salad that makes good use of those surplus tomatoes from the garden and is a great accompaniment to anything from fresh greens to grilled chicken, fish and more. Everybody likes their tabbouleh made a bit differently, so fine-tune the recipe to suit your tastes." Serves 6 to 8
- 1/2 cup of bulgur wheat
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 ripe tomatoes, diced
- 3 to 4 chopped scallions
- 1 cup of chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Soak the bulgur in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes and press it in a colander to remove the water. Combine the bulgur, tomatoes and lemon juice. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes and then add the remaining ingredients. Adjust the ingredients to taste; add salt and pepper as desired.