Here's a nice bulgur recipe courtesy of hubby Joe who first made it as a simple Sunday night supper for us to eat by the fire. A bulgur pilaf with toasted pine nuts, fresh spinach, feta, a touch of chili and some juicy sweet sun-dried tomatoes.
Most famously an ingredient in tabouli (or tabbouleh), bulgur wheat is, I think, one of the better alternatives to rice. A whole grain, a good source of fibre and protein, it is also rich in B vitamins, iron, phosphorus and manganese. For eating, it has a pleasant nutty flavour and texture.
Bulgur is usually sold already par-boiled and can be cooked by simply soaking in cold or hot water. To do this, place the grains in a large bowl and cover them with plenty of water. When soft, drain any excess liquid using a sieve or fine mesh strainer. The only drawback with this method is that bulgur takes a long time to hydrate - as much as a couple of hours. A more common alternative is to simply boil bulgur like rice for about 15 minutes. Cooking times will vary though because some varieties of bulgur are coarser than others. Here's a shot of what the raw grain looked like in this bulgur recipe before cooking.
As it is pilaf, this recipe uses an absorption method to cook the grains. For me, this is one of the nicest ways to cook bulgur.
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 mild red chili pepper, finely chopped
1 and 2/3 cups 350g of bulgur wheat
1¼/300mls cups of water
6 tablespoons/55g of pine nuts
1 cup/200g of sundried tomatoes in oil (as a guide, I used about 15 average size tomatoes)
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
300g/10½ ounces of trimmed fresh spinach (about 6 cups)
200g/7 ounces of feta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Tip the bulgur into the pot and stir to coat the grains with the cooking juices. Add the water, cover, bring to the boil, then turn the heat to very low and simmer gently for about 15 minutes until all of the water has been absorbed and the bulgur is tender. You might be surprised at how little water this seems but don't worry. It will be enough. Just keep the heat very low and check the pot regularly to make sure that the bulgur doesn't stick. When the bulgur is cooked, remove from the heat and leave the pot undisturbed for 10 or 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
Toast the pine nuts on a dry frying pan or skillet over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Shake the pan frequently to avoid burning. If the sun-dried tomatoes are quite large, cut them in half.
Next heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and sugar and cook very gently for about 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook for another 3 minutes. Set aside.
Fluff up the bulgur with a fork and add it to the pan of sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. Finally fork through the toasted pine nuts with plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Crumble the feta into the bulgur pilaf and serve.