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Bulgar Wheat Recipes - Risotto and Variations

Updated on March 2, 2014

An introduction to Bulgar Wheat.

Bulgar (or bulgur, bulghar or bulghur) wheat is a very healthy grain. It is a form of wholewheat which is often confused with cracked wheat. Bulgar wheat differs in that it is partially pre-cooked, which makes it easier to use to create a quicker meal. It can be stored for longer periods, provided it is kept in a sealable container and is very nutritious. In fact, bulgar wheat is high in fibre, several B vitamins, manganese and iron. This means it is actually better for you than rice (especially white rice, which is processed).

Bulgar wheat has the same benefits as wholewheat, as only the husk is removed during its processing. However, bulgar wheat requires less soaking than wholewheat, and is often easier to cook with, thanks to the husk having been removed.

All the recipes listed are designed for one to two, but can easily be scaled up (I would advise against scaling the vegetables directly by person). The plates in the pictures are large dinner plates, which show the entire amount made, before possible splitting.

Picture is of Organic Bulgur Wheat (15 Oz Packet).

Why choose bulgar wheat?

My story of how I came across the grain known as bulgar (or bulgur) wheat.

Bulgar (or bulgur) wheat is one of my more recent discoveries. I was hunting for something else to try that was cheap, since I was getting bored with pasta, rice, pies and potatoes for my carbohydrates. As they say, variety is the spice of life. I found myself in the tinned vegetables and pulses aisle looking up at the grains and lentils trying to work out which one I wanted to try. To be perfectly honest, bulgar wheat in its uncooked form looks a bit like big brown sugar grains. I've got a very sweet tooth, so that's probably what made me choose it.

When I got home, I realised that I had no clue how to cook bulgar wheat, other than the instructions printed on the side of the packet. Of course, these don't tell you what to put it with, so I then trawled the internet for recipes. Unfortunately it seems that bulgar wheat is most often used in salads, since that was about the extent of the recipes that I found. I'm not really the salad type so I was beginning to think that I'd made the wrong decision, trying this new ingredient.

Thankfully, however, I did find a short note on one of the websites that I visited saying that bulgar wheat could be used like pearl barley, which I'm more familiar with. Being the adventurous sort in the cooking department (you never know what it tastes like until you try it!), I decided to try making risotto with my newly purchased bulgar wheat. I must say it was delicious, and I can't wait to make it again. It's much more interesting than risotto made from rice, better for you than white rice, and quicker to cook. All great things for a student, and good things for everyone else too!

As a plus, I have recently found out that bulgar wheat is on the list of foods with low glycemic index, and so is a great food for diabetics or those on a low GI diet.

Bulgur Wheat Risotto with Philly
Bulgur Wheat Risotto with Philly

Just a quick note: You can use any colour pepper if you prefer a different colour. I just use whichever colour I've bought that week.

Also, any vegetable stock used can be replaced by any other flavor stock, or even water or milk if you so wish. If using milk, you might want to leave out the cheese to avoid overpowering other tastes with that of "cream".

Cook Time

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45-50 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 80 g bulgar wheat
  • 1 small/medium carrot (diced)
  • 1/4 green pepper (diced)
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 2 large broccolli florets (chopped)
  • 1 pint vegetable stock
  • 2 tsps philadelphia cheese (Optional - I used garlic & herb but some people prefer cheddar or no cheese at all)

Instructions

  1. Prepare vegetables and other ingredients.
  2. In a saucepan, cook the vegetables whilst the spinach wilts on top, stirring to keep the vegetables moving. If you want to add garlic or other herbs/spices, then add them in at this step.
  3. Once the spinach is wilted, stir and add the bulgar wheat and stock/water.
  4. Stir regularly whilst simmering for 15 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Add the cheese and stir to combine, if using.
  6. Continue to simmer for a couple of minutes until the rest of the liquid is absorbed, whilst stirring continuously to check. Note: This is where it is most likely to stick to the saucepan so stirring is essential.
  7. Serve and enjoy!
Cast your vote for Bulgar Wheat Risotto
Vegan version of the original Bulgar Wheat Risotto recipe
Vegan version of the original Bulgar Wheat Risotto recipe

Vegan Risotto - Whether vegan or lactose intolerant, this is for you.

Whilst I generally use the above risotto recipe (whether with bulgar wheat or with rice), I'm actually lactose intolerant, so on the days I feel like I can't risk any cheese, I make this version. I also have a few vegan friends, so this is a really handy recipe to have around.

This risotto uses soya milk instead of any cheese, but the milk is entirely optional. Personally I like creamy risotto, so I add it in.

There's also a new sort of milk that I've found - coconut milk. It's creamy and more like "normal" milk in consistency than soya milk. As with soya milk though, remember to shake well before you use it.

  • Prep time: 15 min
  • Cook time: 20 min
  • Ready in: 35 min
  • Yields: 1

Ingredients

  • 80 g bulgar wheat
  • 1/6 th red pepper (diced)
  • 3 asparagus spears (chopped into fairly small pieces)
  • 2 handfuls of frozen peas
  • 4 -5 florets of broccolli
  • 4 baby button mushrooms
  • 1 pint vegetable stock
  • ~100 ml Soya milk (optional but makes it a lot creamier)

Instructions

  1. Prepare vegetables and other ingredients.
  2. In a saucepan, soften the asparagus for 2-3 minutes, then add in the rest of the vegetables to heat.
  3. Make up your stock and add this with the bulgar wheat into the saucepan.
  4. Stir regularly whilst simmering until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed (this will probably take around 15 minutes).
  5. Add in the soya milk and stir continuously until it is absorbed.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Fried Bulgar Wheat - An alternative to Fried Rice

Ok so this one isn't vegetarian since it includes bacon, but it's something that I came to rely on as a student. It's fairly fast and is a little bit different to egg fried rice. Now you can use whatever veggies you want - this version is just what I had in the fridge at the time. Most of my recipes come about that way since I don't like food waste.

For the stir fry sauce I like Hoisin and Garlic, or Oyster and Spring Onion. I generally use either Blue Dragon or Sainsbury's own stir fry sauces since they come in packets that serve 2, so I can just use half (and keep the rest for another day), or make double and eat some for lunch. Although recently I've also found that some brands do Oyster sauce (including vegetarian friendly versions) in bottles so you can use as much as you need, then reseal the bottle and keep it for next time.

A picture will follow when I next cook this and remember to take one.

  • Cook time: 40 min
  • Ready in: 40 min
  • Yields: 1

Ingredients

  • 60 g Bulgar Wheat
  • 1 -2 Bacon Rashers
  • 2 Asparagus Spears (sliced)
  • 2 Spring Onions (sliced)
  • 5 -6 Button Mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1/2 packet of Stir Fry sauce (see intro)

Instructions

  1. Prepare all the vegetables and chop the bacon into manageable pieces. Tip:I use scissors to cut my bacon up since it's normally easier than trying to use a knife.
  2. Cook the bulgar wheat according to the packet instructions (normally in a pan of boiling water for 15-20 minutes).
  3. In a saucepan or frying pan, fry the chopped vegetables and bacon until cooked through.
  4. Stir in the cooked bulgar wheat and stir fry sauce, and heat through.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Looking for supplies?

You should be able to get bulgur wheat at your local supermarket, but if not, then I've listed some options below. The ones named "Hot Cereal" can also be used in other cooking, but generally have soya flakes in them too. This is a matter of personal taste, but I would probably stick with normal bulgur wheat without anything added if you're going to use it in a risotto. Well unless you like sweet risotto of course!

Have you tried it before? - Or have a bulgur wheat recipe to share?

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