Turkish Dinner Pt. 2: Bulgar Pilaf with Vegetables

Says my Turkish cookbook when you open to this recipe, “This is a healthful vegetarian dish. We love the combination of the bulgar and vegetables.”



I knew my craving to cook wouldn’t be satisfied by yesterday’s swordfish recipe alone, so I decided to create a side dish from the book to go along with the meal. Bulgar pilaf with vegetables (not to be confused with this recipe for tomato and chickpea stew with bulgar) is not much different than the kinds of food I cook up on a regular basis in my apartment, but it was nice — somewhat soothing, even — to (almost) follow a recipe that seemed somewhat familiar to me.

Naturally, I doctored mine up ever so slightly, removing the butter (I found it to be unnecessary; bulgar can be creamy enough on its own) and the eggplant (because this vegetable is so annoying to cook). You can find my culinary edits in bold.

I’m excited to try this again in the summer, when most of the veggies (including eggplant; I’ll concede and use them when homegrown) will come from my dad’s garden. Really, though, I highly encourage you to make changes of your own.

What You Need

1 eggplant, peeled in stripes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes *Nope, did not use this.

Sea salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon butter *Did not use this either, but feel free in your own!

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeds, ribs and stem removed, finely chopped

1 zucchini, ends removed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

Freshly ground pepper

1 3/4 cups hot water (more if needed)

1 cup coarse, uncooked bulgar *I only used about 1/2 cup, placing the emphasis on the veggies as opposed to the grain. Either way works, depending on what you’re going for.

How To Make It

1. Sprinkle eggplant cubes with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse well, then drain. *Again, irrelevant to my recipe.

2. Heat the oil and butter *or just oil over medium heat in a 3-quart casserole dish; add onion and saute for 6 to 7 minutes.


3. Add green pepper and saute for 3 minutes.


4. Then stir in zucchini (and eggplant).

5. Saute the vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and continue to saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


6. Add hot water, and stir in the bulgar. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and holes appear, 15 to 20 minutes.


7. Taste the bulgar. If needed, add a little more water and simmer for a few more minutes.

8. Remove from heat, and allow to sit a few moments longer before stirring and serving.


That’s all, folks!

  • Would you do anything differently to this dish?
  • Would you use the eggplant, or do you prefer the easy route?
  • For this meal, I wound up serving swordfish, bulgar pilaf, an arugula, avocado and white bean salad, and a loaf of fresh bread. (And lots of wine.) How many dishes do you end up serving when you cook for guests?

5 thoughts on “Turkish Dinner Pt. 2: Bulgar Pilaf with Vegetables

  1. Even though eggplant is a PITA to cook with, I love it. My grandma makes these panko-crusted baked eggplant rounds and they’re one of my all-time favorite snacks…I totally need to bust those out one of these days. And maybe save some leftovers for this bulgar pilaf? Looks delish!

  2. Pingback: Soup recipe with black beans, Bulgar wheat, carrots, peppers, curry spices, red chilli flakes, rosemary, vegetable cube. | Chocolate Spoon & The Camera

  3. Pingback: 3 nutrient-rich vegetarian recipes | Running Bun

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