Repeat after me: bulgur is not boring.
Au contraire, bulgur might just revolutionize your life. If you think that’s a tall order, what other grain really can make the leap from breakfast to lunch with the ease of this whole grain? Oats have their hands full keeping breakfast on the table in the winter months. Rice definitely can play both hands in the form of cereal or steamed side.
In Middle Eastern cultures, bulgur wheat is a household staple for good reason. Here in the U.S., we might be more apt to write it off as a grain we bring into the house only when we want to whip up a tabbouleh recipe. I recently polled a handful of readers to hear other ways they might cook up bulgur. One suggested kibbe as an option and another suggested a link to a kofte recipe that’s in Turkish. Given that my Turkish is non-existent and my propensity for new languages in 2012 is at a minimum, I forged ahead, playing with this grain that had begun to tickle my curiosity with its nutty flavor.
Like rice, bulgur shares a cooking time of about 10-20 minutes depending on the cut of the bulgur. Finer cuts cook quicker and more coarse cuts take longer. Intrigued by taking on bulgur as a side dish and breakfast, I cooked up several ways to make tasty and unexpected additions to meals with this largely ignored and misunderstood grain.
So if you’re looking for something to spruce up the winter table, opt for something simple and go with this humble whole grain.
BULGUR COLLARD CAKES
I picked up some beautiful mushrooms from Far West Fungi this past weekend at the farmer’s market and a small tub of Cowgirl Creamery fromage blanc. They added some noteworthy flavors to these cakes. You can use bella brown mushrooms or the regular white variety of mushrooms if you can’t get your hands on King Trumpets. The King Trumpet mushrooms gave a slightly sweet nutty flavor to the cakes. If you don’t have access to fromage blanc, you can easily substitute in cream cheese. Nutmeg is the secret ingredient I use to give collard greens an enticing edge. Use a cautious hand when adding in the nutmeg- a little goes a long way.
YIELD: 14 cakes
- 5 small King Trumpet mushrooms, minced
- 2 cups collard greens, chopped
- 2 shallots, minced
- 3 small garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. grapeseed oil
- 1 cup bulgur
- 1 ¾ cup water
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons fromage blanc
- nutmeg, to taste
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Sauté the garlic and the shallots over medium low heat for 2 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and sauté for 1 minute. Next, add the collards to the pan and cook over low heat for a few minutes.
- Set a pot with the water to a rolling boil. Add bulgur to the pot and turn down heat so it simmers. Cook for 10 minutes or until the bulgur is chewy and cooked through.
- Mix together bulgur and collard mixture in a large bowl and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
- Whisk in the fromage blanc with a fork into the bulgur and collard mixture. Then beat the eggs into the mixture. Once combined, use a regular tablespoon to scoop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a silpat on a cookie sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.