Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bulgur Pilaf -- Better than Brown Rice!

In case you haven't heard, bulgur is better than rice, even brown rice!!  I promise you.  Compared with brown rice (the "healthy" stuff), bulgur has fewer calories, less fat, more protein, more iron, and a lot more fiber.  Also, bulgur tastes great.  If you are not already a bulgur fan, here is a very simple recipe for Bulgur Pilaf that is sure to win you over.  

I start with one cup of medium grain bulgur (Bulgar No. 2, or even No. 3 if you want a toothier grain), as well as 2 medium sized tomatoes, 1 white onion, 1 Anaheim pepper, and a big handful of Italian flat leaf parsley.  (Note if your bulgur brand does not have a number on it, it's probably number 2 or 3.  What you don't want to use in this recipe is fine bulgur (Bulgur No. 1), as the texture is too fine for this dish.)

First, I rinse and strain the bulgur really well.

Then I slice the onion into long thin strips, chop the tomatoes into medium sized chunks (and sprinkle a bit of salt on them), and slice the pepper into small ringlets (removing any seeds and membranes).  

Next, I sauté the onion and pepper in about a tablespoon of good olive oil for a few minutes until tender.

Then I add in the tomatoes and sauté for another minute or two.

Next I add 2 cups of liquid.  I like to use one cup of tomato juice or vegetable juice and 1 cup of vegetable broth, but you can also use chicken broth, or even water.  Once the liquid comes to a boil, I carefully stir in the bulgur, and then tightly cover the pot and turn the heat to a very low simmer.  The bulgur should simmer over a low heat, undisturbed, until all the liquid is absorbed (about half an hour or so).

While the bulgur is cooking, I chop up the parsley and set it aside.

Once the bulgur absorbs all the liquid it should be tender but not mushy (just like rice, only better!).  At this point, I remove it from the stove, and I stir in the chopped parsley and about a teaspoon of red pepper.  The red pepper is totally optional, but I recommend it if you want a little kick.  

Finally, I season the bulgur with salt and pepper, and serve it warm.

A perfect grain for vegans, part-time vegans, and non-vegans alike, Bulgur Pilaf is wonderful served all on its own for lunch, and it makes a great dinner side dish, especially when complimented with a big dollop of really good plain yogurt!

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