Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bulgur Pilaf

If you're thinking of making or have already made this lentil soup but are wondering what exactly you are supposed to do with the rest of the lentils and bulgur that you stupidly purchased, fear not. I will post a few recipes that use one or both of these ingredients over the next little while. If you see it on here, that means it's both extremely tasty and extremely easy. If you make any of the recipes from start to finish and you actually manage to fuck it up, please let me know and I bet I can figure out a way to make it easier.

Today is bulgur pilaf. To be totally honest, if someone offered me such a thing, I would probably say no, because it sounds both terrible and pretentious. But although I can't do much to alleviate the pretentiousness, I promise this isn't terrible. And bulgur is the kind of horrendous health food you know you should be eating but probably have never gone near, so try this recipe. You'll like it.

You will need the following:

2 cups bulgur
2 large or 4 small tomatoes
1 green pepper
1 large or 2 medium-sized white onions
4 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
3 1/2 cups water

Yes, that's it. Yes, if you already have the bulgur you can buy all these things at a convenience store that sells a few fruits and vegetables. Yes, if you have bought fruits or vegetables practically ever before, you probably have all these things already.

As I noted here, if you don't already have the bulgur, you will probably need to go to a big supermarket. But if you get one bag, you can make every bulgur recipe I post. Oh boy!

So, the first thing you will need to do is chop the vegetables. Always chop onion last, because it makes everything else taste like raw onion, which nobody likes. So chop the tomato or green pepper first.

I have some special instructions for chopping tomatoes. If you have ever attempted to cook fresh tomatoes before, you may have noticed that when cooked, they kind of taste like a soggy donkey's ass. No, I have never tasted such a thing but I do have a vivid imagination.

This horrendous taste occurs because you are probably just chopping a tomato and tossing it in the pan, when to prepare tomatoes for cooking, you actually need to peel and deseed them. I know this sounds like a total pain in the ass, but it's not that bad and you will all of a sudden realize why tomato sauce tastes good, and not like a soggy donkey's ass.

If you ask someone else whether it is necessary to peel tomatoes before cooking, that person will probably tell you they never do it. But that's because they probably don't mind the taste of soggy donkey's ass, so you should listen to me instead. Here's what to do:

Cut the tomato in quarters.

Insert your knife into one of the corners of the tomato quarters, like this.

Then lay the tomato down on one of its flat sides and slice off the rest of the peel, which will be very easy, as follows.

It really doesn't matter if you don't get every tiny bit of the peel off, so don't get all neurotic. Just try to get most of it. Repeat with the remainder of the quartered tomato. Once you're done that, scoop out the seeds with your fingers, then chop up what's left for use in cooking. You'll feel like there's not much left, but don't worry, there's still plenty and it's supposed to feel that way.

Then chop the green pepper whichever way you want (phew!) and the onion.

You are ready to proceed. Get out two small-to-medium sized pots. These were the ones I used and they worked fine:

To one pot, let's say the one on the left, add the 3 1/2 cups of water and turn the heat on high. Then melt the butter in the other pot on the right and add the chopped onion (and as I've said before, I do mean real butter). Cook until the onion is turning golden-brown, about 15 minutes, then add everything else (bulgur, chopped tomato and green pepper, and seasoning) except the water in the other pot. Be really generous with the salt. A few palmfuls should do ya. Then stir it all together for about 2 minutes.

BTW, since you put a pot of water on over high heat, it will boil eventually, probably while the onions are cooking. When that happens, turn the heat down to low and keep it at a quiet simmer. That's poetic, isn't it? Quiet simmer?

Pour the simmering water into the pot with the other ingredients, turn up the heat and bring the whole thing to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer (quietly or not) for 10 minutes, until the water is absorbed and small holes start to appear in the surface of the bulgur. Resist the urge to stir during this stage. When it's ready, it should look like this:

Can you see that there are holes in the surface? Never mind, you'll know when it happens. When it does, take it off the heat and let stand covered for ten minutes, then mix with a fork.

You're done! How easy was that? And I know this looks like a side dish but I had a nice big bowl of it for lunch and I was full until dinner. So it kind of swings both ways, if you know what I mean.


  1. And it seems like it can also go milchig or fleishig, for those who care about such things.

  2. Well, not exactly, unless you don't use real butter, in which case it may be pretty bland.