bulgur wheat can be used in a myriad of ways to produce many delicious recipes and has a very long history with those peoples who have originally used it as a staple. it is a healthy grain and is great for vegetarians and vegans as it can be used for innumerable meatless dishes.
before using bulgur wheat it is important to realize that it comes in different degrees of fineness, from coarse to medium to fine. often, they will be marked with only numbers such as "no#1", continuing with 2, 3 & sometimes 4. ideally, each is used in a specific way for the particular recipe you are making. not all supermarkets carry all the different grinds so you may need to make a trip to a store which specializes in selling items like this. note also that there is a dark kind of bulgur [most common] and a golden one. for the following recipe, you will need the coarse grind (brown or golden).
rice-like once cooked, coarse bulgur wheat is almost always exclusively used to make dolma (stuffed vegetables) and pilavs. here, i am using it the way we ate it at home; an excellent side dish and alternative for rice and couscous, bulgur pilav is very popular and goes well with fish and meat. it is really one of my favourite ways to enjoy bulgur wheat.
if you can make rice, you can make this pilav. you'll also make it again and again!
1 c coarse grind bulgur (medium is ok but coarse is best)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp margarine + 2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium sized tomato, chopped OR,
1 tbsp red pepper paste or tomato paste
1 1/2 c stock or water*
salt & pepper as need/wanted
*usually it is a 1:2 ratio of bulgur to water but here you want only 1 1/2 cups so the finished dish will be al dente.
melt the 2 tbsp of margarine in a fry pan or casserole which has a tight fitting lid.
add the chopped onion and fry it over medium heat until it starts to brown. at this point, add the garlic if using.
add the tomato and fry it with the onion (and garlic) for about 5 minutes. stir it every minute or two.
add the stock or water and salt and pepper. if the stock is not salted, or if you are using water, you will need more salt. it is usually around 1/2 tsp salt + 1/8 tsp black pepper. bring this to a boil.
add the 2 tbsp of olive oil and the bulgur wheat and stir. bring it up to a boil again.
turn down the heat to minimum and place the lid on the pan. cook it for about 20/25 minutes as you would for rice.
at the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and check to see all the water has been absorbed. stir the mixture and place the lid back on.
remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for about 15 minutes before serving. it should be al dente and not mushy.
you can either place the bulgur in molds and press it in firmly, unmolding it on your serving plates or just serve as you would for rice.