Recipe: Bulgur Mushroom “Risotto”

April 6, 2011 at 9:02 am 3 comments

Whole Grains — Not Scary!

Hey, YOU. Yes, you. You know you’re supposed to be eating more whole grains, don’t you?  This may be shocking, but that recommendation isn’t really supposed to be an excuse to nosh on “whole-grain” fortified Sugaree-O’s or Pop-Tarts.  It may sound crazy, but eating “whole grains” should actually involve eating the whole grain. Whole.

Forgive me for being preachy, but this is kind of an exhausting subject.  As someone who’s own mother has politely shot down umpteen well-intended brown rice cooking suggestions, I know it’s hard.  I know!  But really, whole grains are delicious, and totally not scary.  Just try!

Bulgur, one of my favorite whole grains, is a form of wheat that has been par-boiled, dried and ground.  This means it retains almost all of its nutritious elements but also cooks fast (much faster than brown rice, for example).  I love it for its nutty flavor and texture.  Usually, I cook it just like rice, and eat it plain or toss it into salads.  This time, though, I’ve prepared it like risotto in order to create a creamier consistency, which, together with the fresh and dried mushrooms, forms an umami bonanza that may shock you to happy tears.  Bonus: this dish is totally vegan*, if you’re trying to eat like Bill Clinton for some reason.

*OK – Not vegan if you add a touch of butter to finish the risotto, as I strongly recommend that you do.

Recipe: Bulgur Mushroom “Risotto”


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion (or 4 shallots), finely diced
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup bulgur wheat
1 cup fresh wild mushrooms (porcini, oyster, hen-of-the-woods, whatever you like)
1/2 cup dried wild mushrooms
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
10-12 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste


In a small bowl, soak the dried mushrooms in one cup of warm water and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until translucent, 3-5 minutes.   Add the fresh mushrooms and half the thyme sprigs and continue cooking until slightly browned, another 3-5 minutes.  When the mushrooms are ready, add the bulgur wheat and allow to toast lightly, about 1-2 minutes.

Next, add the dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid and bring to a boil.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed.   When the grains appear dry, add 1/2 cup of the stock and continue stirring occasionally.  Repeat until all the stock has been absorbed and the grains are tender.  Remove from heat, then add the remaining thyme leaves and butter if desired.  Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with more fresh thyme.

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Chopping with Docs The Trillion Dollar Question

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Phil  |  April 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I’m making this tonight!

    • 2. Mariana  |  April 7, 2011 at 12:20 am

      So great! Let me know how it goes and take pictures if you can!
      – Mariana

  • 3. Elanio  |  April 10, 2011 at 2:51 am

    Looking forward to making this one tomorrow night. Keep posting!


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Who is Epicuriosa?

Mariana Cotlear is a foodie and advocate for issues related to food, nutrition, and public health. She hopes to change the nutritional landscape in the U.S. and beyond via public policy and communications campaigns to influence the way people eat and encourage them to establish healthier relationships with food.

All photography is by Mariana, except where otherwise noted.

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