You know bulgur as Middle Eastern, but throughout history, it’s been prevalent in Ancient Roman and Chinese empires.
Bulgar is a nutritious, delicious grain that is typically found in salads. Many Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Palestine, use this grain as a staple in their everyday cooking. Bulgur is particularly appealing as its relatively quick to cook. However, it is important to know how to cook it properly, so you end up with fluffy rather than mushy grains.
What Is Bulghar?
Bulghar is a Middle Eastern whole grain made from cracked wheat. It’s usually derived from durum wheat but has also been made from other wheat species. Bulgur is parboiled before packaging, which significantly reduces its cooking time. The grain comes in four formats ranging from fine to extra course.
Bulgur is an incredibly healthy whole grain. This grain is low in fat and sodium, is free of cholesterol and sugar, and is high in protein, fiber, iron and B-vitamins. It’s also a low-calorie option in comparison to other grains, for anyone that is watching their weight.
Bulgur is popular in salads. For example, traditional tabbouleh calls for bulgur. It’s a light grain with nutritional density, so its a great additive to salads. Bulgur is light and fluffy; its texture is reminiscent of quinoa or couscous.
A Brief History of Bulgar
Bulgar has been around for over 4,000 years. The grain originated in the Mediterranean area and has been a common ingredient in Middle Eastern food for centuries. However, Bulgur has a rich history that spans many regions. There are records of ancient Roman, Israeli, Arab and Egyptian civilizations eating bulgur in 1,000 BC. Fast forward to 2,800 BC and Shen Nung, the Emporer of China, made bulgur a sacred crop.
How to Prepare Bulgur
An essential component of using bulgur in recipes is cooking it correctly. Unlike some grains, it’s not necessary to rinse bulgur before cooking. Bulgur can be soaked in boiling water and covered until all of the water has been absorbed. This is the best process for salads as it results in a soft, chewy texture. You can also cook bulgur on the stovetop. Make sure to fluff the grains with a fork after cooking.
The cooking time will vary for bulgur, depending on how fine the grain is.
How to Make a Bulgur Salad
A bulgur salad is quick to make and can be altered to fit your preferences.
- Cook your bulgur via your preferred method. Use broth instead of water for added flavor. Fluff the grains when it’s fully cooked.
- Chop up all of your vegetables. Popular vegetables for bulgur salads are tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions.
- Choose any salad “add-ons.” Some popular options are feta cheese, olives, chickpeas, pomegranate seeds and almonds.
- Mix your ingredients for the dressing. Traditionally, bulgur salads have a lemon-based dressing.
- Mix everything and plate. Bulgur salads taste especially fabulous when made with a variety of herbs such as dill, parsley and mint.
For a great recipe that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, check out this crunchy bulgur salad from BBC Good Food.
For a salad with a Mediterranean flair, this recipe from Taste of Home calls for chickpeas and almonds.
And this salad from Recipe Runner takes another unique approach with carrots, feta cheese and plenty of herbs.
Bulgur is a cost-effective and nutritionally dense addition to your pantry. Try experimenting with this grain and substituting it for rice and quinoa in your regular dishes. Bring a bulgur salad to your next dinner party to amaze the guests and provide a light, refreshing appetizer.