For the past few summers, Baked Couscous has been a staple at our dinner table. We sometimes eat it as a vegetarian meal with just a side salad or as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish. Â After my sister introduced me to the wonders of bulgur last month, I decided to try our favorite summer side dish using bulgur in place of couscous. As the bulgur version contains both whole grains and fresh herbs (both ingredients I’ve been focusing on this summer), I knew that I had to feature it on the blog! Unlike couscous (which is actually a small pasta), bulgur is a whole grain that contains lots of fiber and is very nutritious. Although bulgur takes longer to prepare than couscous, it also has a great nutty flavor and a fluffy texture that I thought would work well in a baked casserole. In fact, my experiment turned out well and my husband even preferred the casserole made with bulgur to the couscous version! Using bulgur adds about 15 minutes to the cooking time, since it takes longer to absorb the cooking liquid, but the results were definitely worth the extra effort.
I often use sweet peas, chopped spinach, or diced bell pepper in place of the carrots or celery in this recipe. I have also used many different kinds of fresh herbs in this casserole including cilantro, thyme and rosemary. Basically, this is a great recipe to use up all the extra veggies or herbs hanging out in the produce drawer! As always, I’d love to hear about any variations that my readers come up with for this recipe or any of your favorite whole grain and fresh herb recipes.
Makes 6 servings (as a side dish)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
1 cup bulgur
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 medium carrots, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring 2 cups of the chicken broth to a boil; stir in the bulgur. Let bulgur sit for about 20 minutes, or until all the broth is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Fluff bulgur with a fork, transfer it to a large mixing bowl and let cool to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and onion and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley and basil to pan and continue to cook until vegetables are tender and garlic is fragrant, 2 more minutes.
3. Add the vegetable mixture to the cooled bulgur and mix lightly with a wooden spoon. Add the egg white, remaining 1/2 cup broth, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of the parmesan to the bowl and mix gently until well combined. Transfer the bulgur mixture to a 2 quart casserole dish and spread out evenly. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake in the preheated oven until cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 30 minutes.