Can You Eat Bulgur Like Oatmeal?

by Devra Gartenstein

If you're ever out of oatmeal but crave a warm, comforting porridge for breakfast, prepare one with bulgur instead. Bulgur is a versatile grain that can be lightly cooked -- or even just soaked -- to make fluffy granules that work well in salads and pilafs. However, if you cook bulgur longer with additional water, it breaks down and thickens in its cooking liquid, creating a creamy porridge that pairs well with fruit and nuts for breakfast.

Quick to Cook

Bulgur is made from cracked wheat berries. The pieces are parboiled, or precooked, before being dried to create a shelf-stable product. Because bulgur is already partially cooked, it softens more quickly than cracked wheat, which is essentially the same thing without the precooking. This quick cooking time makes bulgur a better choice than cracked wheat for a breakfast porridge, whose preparation involves cooking a grain until it's soft enough to break down. This creates a smooth, creamy dish that can be eaten with a spoon.

Choose Your Grind

Bulgur comes in fine, medium and coarse grinds, as well as a range of grades in between. The cooking process softens bulgur grains by plumping them with cooking liquid, and eventually breaking them down if they're cooked long enough. Granules that are smaller in size fully absorb liquid more quickly than larger, coarser granules. Use fine bulgur if you want a relatively smooth porridge that cooks quickly. Use coarsely ground bulgur if you want more texture in your porridge and you're willing to wait.

Nutty Taste

Bulgur has a complex, nutty flavor that speaks of the essence of wheat before it has been refined into flour. As a breakfast food, pair it with any traditional oatmeal topping, such as cinnamon sugar, bananas and raisins. Because bulgur is a staple in Mediterranean cooking, pair it with other Mediterranean ingredients and flavors, such as pomegranates, dates, figs, and sesame seeds.

Cook It Like Oatmeal

Combine each cup of fine-grind bulgur with 4 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the mixture for at least 10 minutes, until it starts to break down and become creamy. Add a pinch of salt to the cooking water to give the bulgur additional flavor and enhance the sweet flavors you'll add later. If the mixture starts sticking to the pan, turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes longer. It'll continue to cook, but it won't continue to burn.

About the Author

Devra Gartenstein has owned and run a variety of food businesses for more than 20 years. She has published two cookbooks: "The Accidental Vegan" and "Local Bounty." Gartenstein holds Master of Arts degrees in philosophy and English literature.

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