Seven. That’s how many times I’ve started this post, selected the entirety of what I’d written and then pressed delete. Seven times, and I really, really don’t want to make it eight. And why am I struggling so with writing about this bulgur pilaf? I guess it might be that while bulgur wheat may be super delicious and really good for you, it might also be somewhat lacking in personality. It just doesn’t inspire eloquent discourse on the beauty of seasonal produce, nor does it possess the charm and charisma of a gorgeous chocolate dessert. It doesn’t even have a dang fried egg on top.
But maybe that’s what I like about bulgur pilaf. It knows who it is and is fine with being a reliable, wholesome side dish, willing to play back up to whatever main course star is being served. The other thing I like about it is that while it’s not flashy and glamorous, it’s so delicious that it often ends up stealing the show. It really is unexpectedly good.
I happen to love bulgur, and this recipe is a sort of hybrid of several pilafs I’ve made over the years. It’s now my favorite. And for those of you who’ve never cooked with bulgur before, it’s super cinchy and is a nutritional powerhouse to boot.
So maybe I was wrong. Maybe bulgur pilaf does have personality; the kind of steady, reliable personality that means you can throw it together any time of the year, or serve it with just about any main course, or make it a meal in itself. It’s delicious, it’s good for you, and we all need more of these kinds of dishes in our lives, right? Here’s the recipe…
Bulgur Pilaf with Vermicelli and Chickpeas
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
½ large yellow onion, minced
2 to 3 oz vermicelli noodles, broken into 2" lengths
½ cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup bulgur
1 ½ cups chicken stock or chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
½ tsp allspice
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over moderately low heat until the butter melts. Add the vermicelli and cook until golden brown. Add the onion and cook until soft and sweet, about 5 minutes. Add the allspice and stir until fragrant. Add the bulgur and cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, chickpeas, salt and pepper. Raise heat to high and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand 10 to 15 minutes, covered. Taste and adjust seasonings (if it needs more salt and pepper). Stir in the lemon zest and chopped fresh parsley. May serve warm or at room temperature.