bulgur with shitake and pine nuts

bulgur with shitake and pine nuts

Sometimes there are days that I don’t feel like cooking.  It’s late, I’m tired, I really want to watch American Idol – you know the obstacles of life attacking the modern young New Yorker.  So when I set out to do this elaborate and extravagant meal to post on, I decided not to.  It was getting late and the pain in my knee I got from running a couple of months ago decided to jump ship and move to the other one.  So instead I opted for something else:  whatever is in my pantry and fridge and would require little to no care.  So why not bulgur?

I love grains, especially nutty crunchy ones.  When I first started cooking grains outside of rice, it was more as an experiment.  I started with the gateway grain: cous cous.  Then moved into the next stage, quinoa – which reminds me to pick some up today – and then I traveled in to harder stuff bulgur, and now I am hooked.  Now, quinoa and cous cous are great, but they get real fluffy.  Good for light stuff like fish, vegetables.  But some times you want something hearty and feels like it’s there and it means business.  Plus, it’s more nutritious than cous cous or rice.  More fiber and more protein.  And I think it is easier to cook than rice – I hate mushy rice especially if it is between congee and rice.  It comes in three different grinds.  Get medium, it’s more universal and fun to eat.

I created this dish more out of necessity when I was a college student.  It’s one of those “oh shit, check doesn’t come in till tomorrow and I’ve used all my freshmen connections already to treat me to the dorm cafeteria”.  I know you have all done it.  I originally made this with cous cous, but as you can see any grain will do.  It’s made mostly with whatever I had lying around in the house at the time and I just adapted as I went along.  If you notice, a lot of the stuff in it is from stuff I had posted in the last 20 days.  It’s stuff you should have around the house, and if you don’t then it’s stuff that you should get to just have around the house.

You can really use any mushroom in this dish, but I like DRIED shitake mushrooms.  They act as sponges when you hydrate them and then squeeze out all the water, which gives it a nice flavor surprise when you bite into them.  But don’t try to use dried shitakes in raw dishes like salads, I tried – it’s bad.  It was a bad idea. This is great as a side for meat dishes, or to take for lunch.


1 cup cracked bulgur

1 medium shallot, minced (about ½ cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tbs)

4 dried shitake mushrooms, hydrated and minced (about ½ cup)

1 tbs pine nuts

1 tbs tomato paste

¼ tsp dried basil

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

2 tbs olive oil

1½ cup of broth (vegetable, meat) or water


toast pine nuts in empty medium saucepan until brown, stirring constantly (about 1 minute)

remove nuts into another dish

sauté garlic and shallots in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat until translucent

stir in bulgur and toss until nutty aroma is released (about 4 minutes)

add mushrooms, tomato paste, and basil and stir until mixed well

pour broth in to sauce pan and simmer on medium until most of the liquid has been soaked up

reduce heat to low until all liquid is gone.

fluff before serving

-serves 4-


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