by Cat, Oct 2013
In the US, when we think of pilaf, we think of rice pilaf – white or brown rice sautéed in butter or oil with shredded or finely-chopped carrots, onion and celery, and some herbs. But in other parts of the world – especially Eastern Europe (including Russia) and the Middle-East – pilaf is made with kasha (buckwheat) or bulgur.
Bulgur is sprouted or toasted/roasted, and cracked wheat. Because it is sprouted or roasted grain, it is more nutritious, because the sprouting/roasting breaks down the phytates and other anti-nutrients in the grain, making its nutrients more available for digestion and absorption.
Look for bulgur made from whole wheat for the most nutritious version (as opposed to ‘Light’). Bob’s Red Mill brand is readily available. Or make your own! See Soaking & Sprouting Grains and Working with Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds (these link to my old site).
If you are gluten-free, try making this with sprouted quinoa instead of bulgur; however it needs much less time to cook, so first sauté the veggies, add the broth and cook until almost tender, then add the sprouted quinoa and steam about 5 minutes.
This recipe serves 2 – 4 people: 2 as a main dish with beans or meat added; 3 – 4 as a side dish.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- 1 – 2 carrots, minced
- 1 cup dry bulgur (wheat, spelt or kamut)
- 1 1/2 cups veggie or chicken broth
- Unrefined sea salt, to taste
- Optional herbs & spices:
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano or thyme
- grated zest of 1/2 orange or lemon
- pinch ground cinnamon
- pinch ground allspice or cardamom
- Optional garnish:
- 1/4 cup raisins or currants
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- sprigs of parsley or mint
- Cast iron skillet with lid (or saucier)
- Chop onion and mince celery and carrot and set aside.
- Heat oil in skillet over medium heat; add chopped and minced veggies and sauté until soft.
- Add bulgur and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes.
- Add optional herbs and spices. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, covered, until liquid has been absorbed and bulgur is tender. Adjust seasoning.
- Serve with optional garnishes. If serving with grilled or roasted meat, arrange meat on top of the bulgur pilaf.