Super easy to make vegan bulgur wheat salad with chickpeas, parsley, dill and mint, an aromatic side dish or light dinner.
What is bulgur?
Bulgur, also known as bulgar or burghul is a whole grain made from pre-cooked durum wheat. Bulgur is a common ingredient in the Indian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking, but it is mostly known in the West as the main ingredient in tabbouleh. This recipe for Vegan Bulgur Wheat Salad with Chickpeas and Herbs is also a little bit like tabbouleh, not exactly so, but pretty similar.
Is Bulgur gluten free?
Bulgur does contain gluten, which doesn’t make it a choice for people suffering from celiac disease. If you have a gluten allergy or the celiac disease, you should definitely switch to gluten free alternatives like brown rice, quinoa, amaranth or my favorite lately, buckwheat.
However, if gluten is not an issue for you, bulgur is a very good alternative to more refined carbohydrates packed foods like pasta, for instance.
Is Bulgur healthy?
Bulgur wheat is low in fat, high in plant-based protein, fibers and minerals
There are many health benefits that according to some sources, bulgur might have.
For instance, according to livestrong.com, bulgur might help to alleviate chronic inflammation, researchers having found that people who consume more betaine, a metabolite found in whole wheat, have lower chances of developing heart disease, Alzheimer, osteoporosis or type 2 diabetes.
Also bulgur might reduce the risk of developing gallstones and the magnesium it contains is “essential for normal brain and nerve function”. Its iron content might help against developing anemia.
Regarding type 2 diabetes, it is also said that bulgur helps “improve the blood sugar levels in the body” and “by optimizing the release of insulin it can help to prevent the spikes and plunges of blood sugar that can be so dangerous for people suffering from diabetes.” (organicfacts.net)
Bulgur has a much higher content of dietary fiber than other cereals and that high content stimulates digestions, helping against constipation or bloating for instance.
And if you are trying to lose some weight, as mentioned above, bulgur is low in fat and also low in calorie, but its high fiber content will make you feel full and this way prevent you from overeating or snacking between the meals.
How to cook Bulgur?
There are three sorts of bulgur: fine, medium and coarse.
When you cook bulgur, make sure to read the packet’s instructions regarding the cooking method and the cooking times. I have bought so many sorts and brands of bulgur over the years and the experience has taught me to always read the packet’s instructions.
The easier bulgur to use, the one I buy the most, is the fine or the medium bulgur. Similar to couscous, the fine or medium bulgur only needs to be soaked in hot broth in order to be cooked, which makes it very convenient. Fine bulgur is usually cooked after about 5 minutes soaking time, while the medium bulgur usually needs about 15 minutes.
The ratio of fine or medium bulgur to liquid is usually 1:2, but again, do check the packet’s instructions for certainty.
However, when cooking a more substantial meal, I prefer to use a coarser bulgur. In this case, the ratio of bulgur to liquid is generally 1:3. Bring the stock to a boil, add the bulgur and cook, uncovered and stirring from time to time, for about 15-20 minutes or according to the packet’s instructions. The bulgur should have absorbed the liquid by the end of the cooking process.
You could replace bulgur with most other cereals or grains in recipes. For instance, I have already cooked a similar salad to this Vegan Bulgur Wheat Salad with Chickpeas and Herbs with quinoa and I can totally imagine its being delicious when made with buckwheat or even wheat or spelt berries.
And for another really delicious way of using bulgur, why not try Yotam Ottolenghi’s Spicy Chickpea and Bulgar Soup from his book Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi. I loved all the Ottolenghi recipes I have ever tried (I have all his books, except Sweet: Desserts from London’s Ottolenghi, which is one of my birthday wishes this year) but this particular bulgur soup is the one I cooked the most. So simple, so healthy, so delicious!
Notes on the Vegan Bulgur Wheat Salad with Chickpeas and Herbs
I have cooked quite a lot with bulgur over the years, I was really surprised to notice that this is the first bulgur recipe I have ever posted on Where Is My Spoon. I cook a lot less with millet for instance , but still I have published more millet recipes than bulgur recipes (Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls with Millet, Tomatoes and Feta or Zucchini Filled with Millet, Feta and Parmesan). Strange!
Thanks to the large Turkish community, bulgur is very easily available in our region, you can buy it just about anywhere, but my favorite shop to buy it is the Turkish/Russian supermarket not very far away from us.
They sell all possible sorts of bulgur, from at least 4 or 5 brands of fine or medium to other several brands of coarser bulgur. Recently, I was even able to buy bulgur mixed with some kind of tiny (and I think fried) noodles. I haven’t tried those yet, but the bag is still in my pantry waiting for its time. 🙂
And what could I say about this delicious Vegan Bulgur Wheat Salad with Chickpeas and Herbs? Well, it is one of my favorite bulgur recipes. I don’t make this exact recipe all the time, but variations of it find their way on our table very often indeed. For instance, I have made similar bulgur wheat salads with finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and olives in it, I have added feta cheese or even Cheddar, I have mixed it with different sorts of cooked beans and I have even added tuna and anchovies once. I loved it every time!
But if there is one more thing I have to say is that I never make this bulgur salad in any form unless I have fresh herbs. Either fresh herbs from my garden or, during this cold season, huge bunches of fresh herbs that I also buy in the Turkish store.
You can serve the Vegan Bulgur Wheat Salad with Chickpeas and Herbs either as a side dish for this wonderful Slow-Cooked Shoulder of Lamb with Mint Pomegranate Yogurt or for any other lamb roast, chicken or fish. Or serve as a light main meal with a nice yogurt dip. Or you can make a huge bowl of it and bring it to a garden party in summer, for instance. Everybody will love it!
You can serve the Vegan Bulgur Wheat Salad with Chickpeas and Herbs either as a side dish for this wonderful Slow-Cooked Shoulder of Lamb with Mint Pomegranate Yogurt or for any other lamb roast, chicken or fish. Or serve as a light main meal with a nice yogurt dip.
Other recipes with grains:
- 200 ml/ 6.7 fl.oz/ ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable broth
- 150 g/ 5.3 oz/ 2/3 cup fine bulgur (See note)
- 1 can chickpeas (400 g/ 14 oz)
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 3 tablespoons chopped dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- chili flakes to taste
- salt and pepper
Give the vegetable broth to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the bulgur, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 5 minutes. Give to a bowl, loosen a bit with a fork and let cool slightly.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Give them to the bulgur and stir. Add the chopped herbs, olive oil and chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve lukewarm or at room temperature.
The fine bulgur I used only needed to be soaked in the hot broth for 5 minutes. However, there are different sorts of bulgur, some finer, some coarser. Coarser sorts need to be cooked differently. Please make sure you read the packet's instructions as well. Prepare the bulgur as indicated on the packet and proceed with the rest of the recipe. Read the blog post for more information on bulgur and its cooking methods.
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