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Cranberry Bulgar with Figs

Cranberry Bulgar with carrots & toasted pecans

I’m always looking for good, healthy alternatives to rice and couscous. Bulgar has more fiber, vitamins and minerals – plus it’s low in fat. More importantly it requires very little cooking and is served at room temperature! Commonly used in Mediterranean, Turkish and Middle Eastern dishes, bulgar has a nutty flavor and is produced in different grinds – #1 fine, #2 medium, #3 coarse and #4 extra coarse. The finer grinds take less cooking time than the coarse grinds. Usually the ratio is one (bulgar) to two (water, stock or broth) but sometimes the coarser grinds will require a little more liquid. Bulgar is so versatile! It can be a great side dish or used to make kibbeh (mini football-shaped minced meatballs coated with bulgar), pilaf, salads, tabbouleh, etc.

We were having several people over for dinner and I didn’t want to worry about the dishes getting cold or taking the time to make sure the rice was cooked properly. My sister-in-law gave me a recipe for figs stuffed with bulgar and cranberries, but I wanted more of a side dish instead of an appetizer so I decided to make the recipe heartier. Recipes with bulgar vary with some saying to boil the water or stock and others saying to let it soak for a few hours. I chose the latter option. It’s much easier and it tastes just as good!

Cranberry Bulgur with Figs
Adapted from The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culinary Journey by Janna Gur
- serves 10 as a side dish –

1/2 cup or approx 4 ounces Bulgar wheat (I used #2 medium)
1 cup water (can substitute broth or stock)
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 cup grated carrots
1/4 chopped fresh chopped mint
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
3-4 tbsps toasted, chopped peacans
2-3 tbsps pomegranate concentrate (plus extra for serving)
As many figs as guests

1.  Soak bulgar in 1 cup water or stock for 4-5 hours until it swells and softens. If in a time crunch, you can add the water to the bulgar and cook in the microwave for a few minutes, then allow it to cool. I didn’t do this option so you’ll have to experiment.
2.  Mix the bulgar with all other ingredients except for the figs. You may do this in advance and keep it in the refrigerator.
3.  Sprinkle bulgar with a little pomegranate concentrate and serve with figs.

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