Monday, April 4, 2011

Cranberry Bulgur Wheat Pilaf, a.k.a. Bulgur Wheat is the Best

I have a new obsession: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Okay, two new obsessions. The first is the Joss Whedon series, which HOTUS and I have somehow missed entirely up until now, and which we are loving like one would love unlimited mimosas or the first hydrangeas of spring. I suddenly get Sarah Michelle Gellar, and see why one might consider three-foot-two-inch Seth “Scott Evil” Green a sex symbol. Also, Alyson Hannigan’s hairdresser has to call me immediately.

The second obsession is bulgur wheat. It’s not nearly as witty, and the DVDs are much harder to collect, but over the last few months, the stuff has become one of my favorite things on earth.

A briefing: Bulgur wheat is a chewy, nutty, slightly sweet whole grain. High in fiber and protein, it’s an excellent substitute for quinoa, brown rice, and other whole grains. I always buy Bob’s Red Mill brand, which is quick cooking, fairly easy to find, and reasonably priced. The only thing wrong with the food, is that I constantly get the name wrong, typing it as “wheat bulgur.” (Oh, the hijinks we get into here.)

I’ve made this fabulous grain into casseroles. I’ve made it into salads. I’ve made it into chicken burgers (recipe coming later today on Serious Eats). And now, I’ve made it into this pilaf, from Moosewood’s Simple Suppers. So. Good.

HOTUS and I just arrived home from a weekend away, and didn’t have many (read: any) fresh vegetables lying around. We did, however, have dried cranberries, an orange, a lemon, and a couple of walnuts. Those are the main flavor components of this sweet side dish, though rosemary, onions, and garlic all play supporting roles. Assembled, it’s worthy of a weeknight dinner, weekend guests, or even … stay with me here … Thanksgiving. (Seriously, this would totally work as an alternative to stuffing. Cross my heart, hope to meet some pilgrims.)

Whether or not you decide to give this dish a try (you should, though), I suggest at least buying a big bag of bulgur wheat. If nothing else, you can throw it at your Buffy marathon every time David Boreanaz attempts an Irish accent.


If you’d like to make sweet sexy talk to this, you’d flip for:

Cranberry Bulgur Wheat Pilaf
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of salt
1 orange
1/2 teaspoon dried crumbed rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups wheat bulgur
1 1/2 cups water or chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1) Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and pinch of salt and sauté onion is soft, about 10 minutes.

2) While onion is cooking, zest and juice the orange. Add zest, rosemary and wheat bulgur to onions. Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add orange juice, water/stock and cranberries. Stir to combine. Drop heat to low, cover, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until wheat bulgur is softened. (It should be chewy, but not crunchy.) If not fully cooked by the end, add 1/4 cup water and give it another few minutes.

3) Kill heat. Stir in lemon juice and soy sauce. Add walnuts. Stir. Salt and pepper to taste. (Salting this correctly will make a ton of difference.) Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price Per Serving
4 servings: 412 calories, 14 g fat, 13.1 g fiber, 10 g protein, $1.10
6 servings: 275 calories, 9.4 g fat, 8.7 g fiber, 6.6 g protein, $0.73

NOTE: I used water instead of broth, fresh rosemary, Bob’s Red Mill Quick Cooking Bulgur Wheat, and walnuts. The calculations reflect that.

2 tablespoons olive oil: 239 calories, 27 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.20
1 cup chopped onion: 67 calories, 0.2 g fat, 2.2 g fiber, 1.5 g protein, $0.40
3 garlic cloves, minced: 13 calories, 0 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, 0.6 g protein, $0.12
Pinch of salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein per serving, $0.01
1 orange worth of zest: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein per serving, Free
1 orange worth of juice: 39 calories, 0.2 g fat, 0.2 g fiber, 0.6 g protein, $0.33
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein per serving, $0.33
1 1/2 cups wheat bulgur: 840 calories, 3 g fat, 42 g fiber, 30 g protein, $1.36
1 1/2 cups water: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein per serving, Free
1/2 cup dried cranberries: 182 calories, 0.7 g fat, 5 g fiber, 0.2 g protein, $0.50
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice: 4 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein, $0.30
1 tablespoon soy sauce: 8 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, 1 g protein, $0.09
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds: 255 calories, 25.4 g fat, 2.6 g fiber, 5.9 g protein, $0.75
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein per serving, $0.01
TOTAL: 1647 calories, 56.5 g fat, 52.3 g fiber, 39.8 g protein, $4.40
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 412 calories, 14 g fat, 13.1 g fiber, 10 g protein, $1.10
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 275 calories, 9.4 g fat, 8.7 g fiber, 6.6 g protein, $0.73

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Claire Dawson said...

At the risk of sounding like a crazed stalker who pretends she has personal relationships with bloggers, I have often thought you sounded like someone who would love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So I'm glad you've discovered the joy that is the series, though we're all very sorry about Season Six. Except the two good episodes.

Kris said...

@Claire: I love it so much. Admittedly, Season 1 was a little tough to get through, but we're a few episodes into Season 3 now, and it was totally worth it. Looking forward to more ...

Claire Dawson said...

Did the end of Season 2 destroy you utterly? I made the mistake of watching it alone, without access to the next season to ease the pain.

I don't know what it is, but Joss Whedon is just so good at both completely serious heartwrenching and wry, irreverent humor.

Ok, I'm done geeking out. ;)

Michael said...

So are the dried cranberries you have in mind "Craisins", or something else? I'm under the impression that Craisins are sweetened, do unsweetened dried cranberries exist?

Kalyn said...

I love bulgur but the funniest thing of all is that when I was a kid it was something my mom used to mix into things as a "meat-extender" (we had ten kids in the family!) Of course we kids hated it, and used to make fun of any dish that had bulgur in it!

Kris said...

@Claire: I did not expect to get as sniffly as I did. I hear the 3 and 4 finales are even better?

@Michael: That is an excellent question. I'm not sure where you would buy them unsweetened, but they must exist, right?

@Kalyn: I hear you. Spaghetti squash then = gross low-price meat alternative. Spaghetti squash now = heaven in a gourd.

Jim said...

Had bulgur for the first time 33 years ago. My sister-in-law made it for breakfast, with cinnamon, milk and a little sugar. Loved it so much, this non-chef actually remembered the dead-simple recipe:

Add 1 cup bulgur to 1 cup boiling water (maybe a pinch of salt before boiling). Remove from heat, make sure water covers all the bulgur. Cover, then come back in 20 minutes, fluff, then add your stuff. Works for me, curious to hear about other simple bulgur prep.

Grace said...

What's the texture of bulgur like? I don't think I've ever tried it.I love quinoa, but sometimes the texture kinda gets to me. (hence the giant bag of it sitting in my cabinet, uneaten)

I'm admittedly not a Buffy fan, but I do loves me some David Boreanaz. Even if he stinks at accents. If you've never watched Bones, I suggest you check it out. He's awesome in it.

Emily said...

If you're just now getting into Buffy, have you checked out Joss Whedon's other stuff? I highly, highly recommend Firefly (the tv series. Also the movie, but definitely the tv series) and Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long blog. Nathan Fillon in excellent fitting pants and singing! It's pretty much all you need in life.

Also, I've been doing a variation of this recipe for the past couple of weeks as well. It's a really excellent transitional meal when we're in this funky in between season thing.

Claire Dawson said...

I feel like there's some disagreement about the relative merits of season finales, actually. 2 is my favorite, but I have a friend who definitely prefers 3. 4's not really particularly great, though. The season's still pretty good, but the finale's just ok.

I also second Emily's Firefly recommendation.

Sven (Ret.) said...

Try subbing that bulgar stuff for my dressing on Thanksgiving and you'll be out of the will in a heartbeat.


Kris said...

Wouldn't dream of it, Dad :)

Anonymous said...

Have you tried Mark Bittman's Bulgur Chili recipe from "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian"? It's great and even my kids will eat it.