Quick simple lunches don't have to be limited to sandwiches or over-priced take-out. Instead, why not try one of the most delicious, quick-cooking grains of them all? Bulgur wheat! Bulgur may not be as trendy as quinoa or heirloom rices, but it deserves a spot in your grocery cart all the same.
Bulgur is made by parboiling and cracking whole wheat berries. Because of this, it requires little real cooking. You simply boil water and let the grains steep. My boyfriend Sam is Lebanese, so we often make tabbouli from bulgur he buys at our local Middle Eastern Market; it's a common staple in many Middle Eastern recipes, but it extends far beyond any particular ethnicity or class of recipes. It turns out: bulgur's everywhere!
When you go to buy bulgur, you'll notice that it comes in grinds or sizes: #1-2 are finer while #3-4 (what I usually buy) are heartier and chewier. The larger the grind, the slower it will cook, so you may have to give it a quick boil to soften it up. I go to the trouble of using the longer-cooking sort because I like mine a bit more toothsome. (It's still quicker-cooking than so many other grains.)
Once you start experimenting with bulgur, you'll likely think of dozens of things to do with it: warm grain bowls in the morning instead of oatmeal, quick impromptu grain salads for lunch with leftover vegetables, pilaf-style side dishes to accompany fish or chicken at the dinner table. The perfect grain for the busy home cook, or any of us looking for something a little different for lunch this week.
Try a Recipe
• Veggie Burgers - Martha Stewart
• White Bean Chili with Jalapeno Bulgur - Real Simple
• Tomato Bulgur Soup with Warm Spices - Whole Foods Market
• Warm Bulgur and Lentil Salad - Food 52
• Mediterranean Grain Salad (pictured) - Martha Stewart
• Bulgur Eggplant Parmesan - Clean Eating
• Bulgur and Chickpea Salad with Cranberries, Toasted Almonds with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette - The Gouda Life
• Spring Tabbouleh - 101 Cookbooks
• Italian Bulgur Bowl - Women's Health Magazine
• Bulgur Kabob Burritos - Sunset
(Image: Martha Stewart)