I’ve been waiting to post this recipe for one reason or another, but decided to pull the trigger when I realized that these summer veggies will soon be out of season. With that in mind, you’d better get this recipe on your meal plan in the next few weeks!Bulgur bowls are my Middle Eastern interpretation of Buddha bowls. They’re filled with bulgur, which is a hearty, Middle Eastern cracked wheat used for pilaf. They have veggies and chickpeas, and the whole thing is dressed in a tahini vinaigrette. They’re vegetarian (vegan, actually), easy to assemble, and basically fool-proof; almost any ingredient can be swapped out depending on what you have available or what you like, and I’m not sure you’d miss it. Rather than sticking strictly with chopped, raw veggies, I also threw in some of my Za’atar Roasted Carrots. The cooking time was a little longer, but it certainly added a little something special to the meal. The tahini dressing elevated the whole dish even further, and really provided that Middle Eastern flavor. The liquid from the can of chickpeas, also called aquafaba, even gave the dressing a creamy consistency without the dairy!
If any of these ingredients are hard to find, you can easily make substitutions. You could substitute cooked barley or farro for bulgur, or even use brown rice. You can completely omit the tahini from the dressing, or even substitute some hummus, which contains tahini, instead. I used purslane as my leafy green veggie, but almost any green veggie would work. Lentils or white beans could sub in for chickpeas. The sky’s the limit with this recipe; just get creative, and use what you have on hand.
This dinner is great on weeknights because it can be completely prepped ahead. You can chop all the veggies, prepare the bulgur, and make the dressing 1-2 days in advance, and then store each separately in the fridge. You can serve the dish warm, cold, a mix of warm and cold, or at room temp. There are 4 servings in this recipe, though you could adjust the recipe to fit your needs; e.g., fix yourself a larger serving, double the recipe to feed a crowd, or cut down to just feed yourself. I believe my husband and I each ate a serving, our kids shared the equivalent of one serving, and I still had a bunch to take for lunch the next day. Finally, as if you needed another reason to make it, this recipe is one of the most satisfying vegan recipes I’ve ever made. I truly didn’t miss the meat, and also didn’t feel bad finishing my whole bowl. These bowls (and variations) have become one of my favorite go-to healthy meals, which is one more reason I’m so excited to share them with you.
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- 1½ cups coarse bulgur
- 1 large tomato, large diced
- 1 medium-large cucumber, large diced
- Za'atar Roasted Carrots (optional; see recipe on this blog)
- ¼ onion, sliced thin (optional)
- 1 cup packed leafy greens, roughly chopped (spinach, kale, arugula, lettuce, or purslane are good options)
- 1 can chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved for dressing (see below)
- ⅓ cup liquid from the can of chickpeas (official name is aquafaba)
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ⅔ cup grape seed oil or another neutral oil, like canola
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon tahini
- ½ teaspoon dried mint
- 1 scallion, sliced
- Put the bulgur, 3 cups of water, and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a 2 quart pot (make sure it has a lid). Stir to combine. Set the heat to medium until it comes to a boil. Reduce to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid to check on it!
- Meanwhile, prep the vegetables (wash and cut them), and set them aside. If using the Za'atar Roasted Carrots, those should be prepared ahead of time, since they take additional time.
- Make the dressing (see recipe below).
- Assemble the bowls: Divide the bulgur evenly between 4 bowls. Divide each type of vegetable (tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, onion, leafy greens) into 4 portions, and place each one on top of the bulgur. Evenly divide the chickpeas between the 4 bowls.
- Dress the bowls with the Tahini Dressing to taste.
- Place all of the dressing ingredients in a pint Mason jar, or another similarly sized container with a lid. Shake vigorously for 30-60 seconds, or until well combined. The dressing will separate after a few minutes, so shake again just before serving.