In this series blogger Helen Best-Shaw revisits beans, pulses, lentils & grains and finds new twists on old staples. Here she examines the highly versatile and surprisingly easy to cook bulgar wheat.
If bulgar is not already a store cupboard staple then it should be. It ticks all the boxes for frugal, easy cooking, as well as being delicious with a nutty flavour and a chewy texture. I often think of it as instant rice; like cous cous you simply pour over boiling water and let it soak, but it beats cous cous hands down in terms of flavour and texture. Weighing in at around 9p per portion, with barely any cooking costs it should suit any budget and it would be a shame to miss out.
Bulgar (also known as bulghur, burghul or bulgar) is popular in many regions, especially in the Middle East and is a staple in dishes such as tabbouleh and kibbeh. It is made from cracked wheat groats which have been par boiled and then dried. With nearly 15g of protein per cooked 100g it makes an excellent filler to stretch more expensive ingredients a little further.
To prepare (it really is so easy it cannot be called cooking) bulgar wheat simply pour into a bowl and add double its volume of boiling water or stock, stir and allow to stand for 12 - 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the grain has softened. Cooked to dry ratio is about 3 to 1, 150g of dry bulgar will yield about 450g of cooked.
The cooked bulgar can be used in salads, added to rice, made into a pilaf, stir fried, used in a stuffing or to bulk out and add texture to bread. My baked eggs in tomato bulgar was inspired by the popular Middle Eastern of shakshuka, and makes a quick lunch and is perfect for using up odds and ends of vegetables that are in the fridge. Add what you have - peppers, grated root vegetables, peas and corn would all work well here. I baked in individual dishes in the oven, which I think makes a more attractive dish perfect for a kitchen supper too, but if time is tight and you do not want to turn the oven on, simply crack the eggs into the frying pan and cook on the hob.
Baked eggs in tomato bulgar
80g bulgar wheat
160ml chicken or vegetable stock
glug olive oil
1/2 onion or a few spring onions - finely chopped
1/2 a 400g can of tomatoes - chopped
dash of chilli sauce - to taste
a grating of cheese
Fresh herbs to garnish
Place the bulgar wheat in a bowl and pour the stock over, stir and allow to stand for 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.
Fry the onion in the oil for a few minutes until it starts to turn golden, add the bulgar, tomatoes and chilli sauce. Stir well and cook for a few minutes.
Spoon the bulgar mixture into two oven proof dishes, make a well in the middle of each and crack an egg in. Scatter a sprinkling of cheese over each and bake at 190C / GM5 for about 12 minutes until the egg is cooked, and the yolk still runny.
Serve immediately with a few fresh herbs from your garden or window box.
Other ideas for using bulgar wheat are my mixed grain risotto with dried mushrooms
Simply Recipe’s traditional tabbouleh
A baked kibbeh from the Taste of Beirut
Breakfast bulgar wheat porridge and a bulgar wheat loaf
Inspired? For more vegetarian recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.
I love this sort of dish as the chilli/tomato and egg combination are a firm favourite, I've never had them with bulger wheat though so will definitely have to give this recipe a go.
30 September 2013