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Pantry staples: bulgur wheat

Everything you need to know about this Middle Eastern grain.

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Love bulgur as much as we do? Find out everything you need to know about this delicious cereal in our pantry staples guide.

Our pantry staples series sees us take a look at the ingredients that most people usually have in their presses – chickpeas, beans, noodles and the like. Today, we’re looking at bulgur wheat. 

Bulgur is a Middle Eastern cereal made from kernels of durum wheat, similar to couscous. The grain is minimally processed to remove the husk, with the bran and germ kept, before being par-cooked. This process helps to differentiate bulgur wheat from other cereal-based grains, like freekeh. 

Tabbouleh is commonly made with bulgur wheat. Getty Images.
Tabbouleh is commonly made with bulgur wheat. Getty Images.

Nutrition and cooking

In terms of flavour, bulgur wheat has a very light, nutty taste, making it an excellent addition to salads. Par-cooked bulgur, also known as instant or fine-grain bulgur wheat, does not strictly require cooking – it only needs to be soaked in water to soften – but be sure to check the packaging to make sure your bulgur wheat is suitable for this method. If you need to fully cook out your bulgur wheat, the general rule is to use a 2:1 ratio of water to bulgur. Bring it to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until it is tender. Drain off any excess liquid and it's ready to eat.

Nutritionally speaking, bulgur wheat is an absolute powerhouse. It packs in a serious amount of dietary fibre, around 8g per 250g serving which is approximately 35% of your recommended daily intake. Bulgur is also a great plant-based source of protein, serving up nearly 6g per 250g serving. However, as bulgur wheat is made from durum wheat, it is not gluten-free and therefore not suitable for coeliacs or those with gluten intolerances.

Bulgur wheat salad with avocado. Getty Images.
Bulgur wheat salad with avocado. Getty Images.

Uses and recipes 

Bulgur has become a very commonplace ingredient, so you will be able to find it in most supermarkets, as well as speciality stores. It's important to keep bulgur wheat in a sealed container in cool, dry place once opened in order to keep it fresh. 

As it's such a nutritional powerhouse, bulgur wheat is a great addition to any diet and can be used in place of most other grains, like rice, quinoa and couscous. It's particularly good in salads as its protein and fibre can help you stay fuller for longer. If you're meal prepping for the week, soak enough bulgur to do for a few days and add it to your lunchbox to bulk out your meals a little.

Looking for some recipe inspiration? Bulgur wheat is a key ingredient in Middle Eastern tabbouleh, which is a super fresh salad jam-packed with herbs. To make, simply combine finely diced tomato, parsley, mint, red onion or spring onion and seasoning with a little bulgur and some olive oil.

Another favourite of ours is this roast hake and bulgur wheat salad from Hugo Arnold. The ground cumin, coriander, turmeric and ginger in this dish really makes the bulgur pop. Try it out here.

Hugo Arnold's bulgur wheat and hake.
Hugo Arnold's bulgur wheat and hake.