Bulgur, a Middle Eastern staple made from durum wheat, is what remains after the kernels have been steamed, dried, and crushed. In Mediterranean countries, bulgur is often used like rice. With its nutty flavor and light texture, this cereal grain offers an inexpensive source of low-fat protein. Because bulgur is made from precooked wheat berries, it takes only about 20 minutes to reconstitute by soaking or simmering. In low-calorie meals, it serves as a welcome addition.

Bulgur comes in different grades, often referred to by number, from the finest (#1) to the most coarse (#4), and it is used in different dishes according to grade. For instance, pilafs are usually made with medium, coarse, or very coarse bulgur; tabbouleh and kibbe are made with fine bulgur. Bulgur is easiest to find in whole foods stores and in Middle Eastern markets and is convenient to store in your kitchen.

Health Benefits

Because bulgur remains high in protein and minerals, it is an ideal foundation for meals and replacement for higher-fat protein sources, like meat or cheese. Bulgur is exceptional in terms of fiber content, and will help keep your digestive tract healthy as a result. The insoluble fiber that it contains promotes faster elimination of waste, which prevents the formation of toxicity in your colon and the eventual development of cancer.

Easy to Prepare

Because bulgur is already partially cooked, preparation is simply a matter of combining a half cup of bulgur with one cup of liquid and simmering for 15 minutes. Allow to rest for another 10 minutes.

For cold salads, simply soak bulgur before using. Pour boiling water over the bulgur, in a three-to-one ratio. Soak for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain away excess water. If you like your bulgur chewier, let it sit longer to absorb more water.

What follows are three salad recipes, chosen for their health benefits and simple preparation.

Bulgur Salad with Garbanzo Beans, Feta, and Plum Tomatoes

(Serves four)


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15 1/2-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed, drained
  • 1 cup diced plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel


Bring 2 cups water to boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat; add bulgur and salt and stir to blend. Cover and let stand until bulgur is just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well, pressing to extract excess water. Transfer bulgur to large bowl; cool. Mix in remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and serve, offering pita with the salad.

Courtesy of Bon Appetit.

Bulgur Salad with Green Onion Vinaigrette

(Serves six)


  • 3/4 cup medium-grind bulgur
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 4 green onions, sliced, plus
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon buckwheat honey
  • 1 serrano chile, chopped
  • 1/2 cup canola oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Place bulgur in a large bowl, pour 3 cups boiling water over, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well, squeezing out as much water as possible, if needed. Return the cooked bulgur to the bowl and mix in the onion, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and 4 sliced green onions. Place the lime juice, honey, serrano, and 1/2 cup chopped green onion in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until emulsified. If the mixture appears too thick, blend in a few tablespoons of cold water, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the salad to a platter and drizzle with the green onion vinaigrette.

Courtesy of Bobby Flay.

Tabbouleh (Bulgur, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Parsley, Mint, and Lemon)
(Serves four to six)


  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • zest of one lemon (optional, but good)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used curly parsley, but either type will work)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped cucumbers
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Measure out 1 cup bulgur into a bowl big enough to hold the finished salad. Add 1 cup boiling water, stir, and let bulgur soak until all the water is absorbed. While bulgur soaks, zest one lemon and put zest into a small bowl. Squeeze lemon juice into bowl, adding more if needed to make 3 T lemon juice. Add finely minced garlic, then whisk in 3 T olive oil. When bulgur has absorbed all the water, stir in this dressing and let marinate while you chop herbs and veggies.

Wash parsley and mint and spin dry or dry with paper towels. Chop herbs and slice green onions and stir into bulgur. Peel cucumbers and remove seeds if the seeds are big. Dice cucumbers and tomatoes into pieces about 1/2 inch, then gently stir into salad. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve.

Courtesy of Joanne Weir as adapted by Kalyn's Kitchen.