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Bulgur with Roasted Turnips, Carrots, and Kale

April 5, 2010

Bulgur with roasted veg and kale

In my quest to discover new and interesting grains, I decided to give bulgur a try, and it is a new favorite. It is what I wanted quinoa to be like (so far, I just haven’t been able to get into the quinoa). Bulgur is parboiled wheat berries, ground to various consistencies. It’s similar to couscous, in that you cook it by soaking, rather than simmering, but it’s a whole grain. And it has a lovely subtle, nutty flavor and good chewy texture. And like many grains, it’s a great blank canvas for all kinds of flavors. In what I’m hoping is one of the last of the root vegetable-based dishes of the winter, this bulgur dish is made with roasted turnips and carrots, and some sauteed kale. Delicious and filling and warming and good. I love the bulgur.

I wish I could say this was a simple, one pot meal, but alas, it did involve using three different pans for cooking. But it was worth the dishpan hands. The bulgur and kale are cooked separately on the stove, and the root vegetables are roasted in another pan in the oven. Three dishes for one person felt kind of annoying, but this did end up feeding me two meals, so that made it a little less ridiculous. And I did discover that mixing everything together in the roasting pan, instead of in the skillet, allowed some of the liquid from the kale to de-glaze the pan a little, picking up some of the caramelized, roasty vegetable bits and helping to clean the pan just a little bit. Genius.


Bulgur is super easy to cook. Like most grains, you use a 1:2 ratio of grain to liquid. In this case, half a cup of dry bulgur to one cup of water cooked up enough bulgur for two meals. I used chicken stock for this, but it’s equally good made with water. I also seasoned the bulgur with a Greek Seasoning blend. To cook bulgur, you bring your liquid to a boil in a small saucepan (or larger, if you’re cooking a lot of it). Once the liquid is boiling, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the bulgur, cover, and let sit for about 20 minutes. The liquid will absorb into the bulgur, and when it’s all absorbed, just fluff it a bit with a fork and do what you will with it.

I roasted the turnips and carrots with a sprinkling of Aleppo pepper and about half a tablespoon of olive oil, at 400 degrees for about 40 to 45 minutes. They were cooked through, but still had some body and texture and the pepper was just enough to add heat without being overly spicy. If you don’t have Aleppo pepper, crushed red peppers should do the trick nicely.

The kale was kind of tough, so a simple saute wasn’t quite enough to soften it up. I ended up adding about half a cup of water to the skillet to give it a kind of quick braise (is that just a contradiction in terms?). And once the vegetables were roasted and the bulgur was tender and the kale was wilted, I just stirred it all together in the roasting pan with a bit of salt and pepper. Easy peasy.

Bulgur with roasted turnips, carrots, and kale

Bulgur with roasted turnips, carrots, and kale

  • 2 turnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of bulgur
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
  • 2 cups of kale, de-stemmed and cut into small pieces (about half of a medium-sized bunch)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced

Heat the oven to 400F. Mix the turnips and carrots in a roasting dish with half the olive oil, the dried peppers, and the salt. Roast the vegetables for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until they are soft enough to pierce with a fork, turning the pan and stirring the vegetables half way through roasting.

Meanwhile, heat the stock or water in a small saucepan until boiling. Once the liquid boils, remove from the heat and stir in the bulgur and the seasoning. Cover the pan and let set for at least 20 minutes.

When the vegetables and the bulgur are about 10 minutes from being done, heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the kale and cook, stirring often, for a few minutes. Add the garlic and stir well. If the kale is more tender and is wilting after a few minutes, you are probably good just sauteeing until it’s cooked through, but if it’s a bit tough, like mine was, you might want to add about half a cup of water. Keep cooking the kale and stirring until it’s tender, but not too mushy (unless you like it mushy).

Once the vegetables come into the oven, mix the kale and the bulgur into the vegetables in the dish. The liquid should help scrape up some of the roasty bits from the pan in an extra delicious way. Season with salt and pepper, and enjoy.

Bulgur with roasted veg and kale

Can’t find bulgur at your supermarket? You could try this same combination, substituting whole wheat couscous for the bulgur. Or, you could do the same thing with brown or wild rice instead. Or try whole wheat orzo, perhaps. The turnips add a nice bite, and the carrots mellow it all out with carrot-y sweetness. The kale is just a bit bitter, and it’s all got a bit of heat from the peppers. As much as I’m getting tired of root vegetables, I have to admit, they do taste fantastic, and are easy as anything to cook.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2010 8:16 am

    Where were you last week when I got carrots and turnips in my CSA? :)

  2. Caro permalink
    August 12, 2010 4:52 am

    Can this be made in a slow cooker (crock-pot)?

    • August 12, 2010 4:55 am

      I suspect the vegetables can, but probably not the bulgar. I’m not that experienced with cooking in a slow cooker, though, so you might want to experiment.

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