Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Mediterranean Way to Eat - Grains - Part 3


Bulgur is a traditional ingredient in European, Middle Eastern, and South Asian cuisine. It is a common ingredient in Armenian, Assyrian, Lebanese, Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean dishes. The word bulgur is of Turkish origin. It is a good source of fiber, protein, iron and vitamin B-6, and it has a mild, nutty flavor.

Bulgur is made from precooked wheat berries, and takes only about 20 minutes to reconstitute by soaking or by simmering. It’s a great substitute for rice, because it has more fiber and nutrients, and it is considered a low glycemic index food. Low glycemic index foods only produce small fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels compared with foods like rice and potatoes.[1] [2] Eating whole-grain foods, including bulgur, may lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.[3]

It is usually sold ground and you can buy it in many grocery stores. If you cannot find it in your local supermarket, try a health food store.

The coarsest grind makes a good substitute for rice.
The medium grind is more versatile, while...
the finest grind is the type usually used in tabouleh.

There are two ways to cook bulgur.

Soaking Method - This works well when preparing bulgur for salads and casseroles. Boil 1 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of bulgur to the water. Cover and set aside for about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well.

Cooking Method - This is an approach you could take when preparing bulgur for cereals or as a side dish. Combine 1 cup of bulgur and 1 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and allow to simmer for about 8 to 15 minutes or until tender. Let stand for about 5 minutes. If there is any liquid remaining, you can either drain it or allow to simmer uncovered until all the liquid is absorbed. The longer it cooks and the more water you use (up to 2 cups), the softer the grain will be. (Perhaps too mushy for some.)

Bulgur's greatest claim to fame is that it is the major component in Tabouleh Salad. There are several ways of making it, but there are key ingredients in most Tabouleh. Watch this YouTuber prepare her version of the salad.

(YouTube link)

Martha Stewart's Tabouleh Salad

1/2 cup bulgur wheat
2 tomatoes, diced (1 1/2 cups)
3 scallions (both white and green parts), trimmed and thinly sliced (1 cup)
2 to 3 cups chopped fresh curly parsley, stems removed
1 cucumber, peeled and diced (1 cup)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, or more to taste

  1.  Rinse the bulgur wheat in cold running water and soak in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add the tomatoes, scallions, parsley, cucumber, and mint. Toss together.
  3. Whisk together the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, and salt. Stir the dressing into the salad to fully combine. 

Related Posts
Part 1
Part 2