Mexican bulgur bowls are brimming with tasty taco-inspired flavors including, spicy, quick-cooking bulgur, black beans, corn, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, olives, and zesty lime vinaigrette.
This super-satisfying bowl is another example of why bulgur is such a popular ground meat substitute around our kitchen. What’s not to love? It’s a quick-cooking whole food that you can keep in the pantry, so it’s always on hand when you need it.
What is bulgur?
Bulgur wheat is a cereal grain, groats of wheat to be specific. It is cracked, parboiled, then hydrated. The processing makes bulgur cook up in about 15 minutes, without the loss of nutrition. That’s because bulgur contains all three elements of grain – the germ, endosperm, and bran.
Full of nutrients and high in heart-healthy fiber, bulgur is a nutritious and tasty vegan option if you're looking for a grain that's low in carbohydrates. It’s also healthier than rice. And because it's lower in calories and cost than quinoa, bulgur is worth keeping in stock if you want an easy super-grain.
Bulgur is whole wheat, therefore, it is not suitable for anyone following a gluten-free diet. If this describes you, then this is a case for quinoa. You can follow all the recipe steps using equal amounts and make it gluten-free. Green lentils can also be used, although they will take twice the time to cook.
How to make it
1. Heat a medium pot or skillet. Be sure it is something with a lid. Then sauté the onions and jalapenos.
2. Add the garlic and the spices (cumin, chili powder, oregano, and garlic powder). Mix it in for no more than 30 seconds. You don’t want the garlic to scorch.
3. Pour in the tomato sauce and add the maple syrup and lime juice. Be sure to stir so that you pick up any onions or spices stuck to the bottom of the pan.
4. Add the bulgur and ½ a cup of water. Be sure to combine everything so that the bulgur isn’t just sitting on the top of the pan.
5. Bring the pan to a low simmer, and cover. Bulgur takes about 15 minutes to get tender. The best way to check for doneness is to taste it.
There are two 'must haves' for these bowls. The first, the spicy bulgur and the other? The dressing. This is a vinaigrette and is a bit on the lighter side.
The vinaigrette will get thicker as it sits. For this reason, you may want to make it first. Be sure that you use ground, not whole flax seeds. Use a spice grinder to pulverize whole seeds. Each tablespoon of ground flax seeds requires 2 tablespoons of whole flax seeds. You can keep ground flax seeds for months in a jar or sealed container.
Not a fan of cilantro?
- Be sure to pre-heat the skillet before you add the onions and jalapenos. This helps prevent the onions from sticking. If they do start to stick, add a tablespoon of water. If the bulgur sticks to the bottom of the pan before it’s tender, give it a good stir and add ½ a cup of water and allow it to cook down.
- Bulgur takes about 15 minutes to cook, so you may want to prepare all the rest of the bowl ingredients before you begin cooking.
- Don’t get concerned if you don’t have quite enough tomato sauce or too much. Make adjustments with the amount of water you add. The longer you cook bulgur, the more the liquid will evaporate.
- Consider wearing gloves when working with hot chilis such as jalapenos. Remove the seeds and inner core to help reduce the heat of fresh chilis.
Bulgur is whole wheat that is cracked, parboiled, and dried. Cracked wheat is raw whole wheat berries that have been milled but not precooked.
Bulgur has more health benefits than rice, and in particular, white rice. Because bulgur has twice the fiber of rice, it has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar.
Bulgur can be reheated in the oven, microwave, or on the stove. Add a small amount of water if reheating on the stove to avoid burning.
Ground flax seeds are an oil-free thickener for the dressing. The best substitutes are ground chia seeds or hemp seeds as a second alternative.
What’s in your bowl?
One reason to love bowls is that they are fully customizable. We usually serve ours with black beans, corn, lettuce, and tomatoes. If we happen to have a ripe avocado or black olives, yippee! Here are some related recipes that you might enjoy with your bowls.
Mexican bulgur bowls
Mexican bulgur bowls are brimming with taco-inspired flavors featuring spicy bulgur, black beans, corn, lettuce, tomatoes, and zesty lime vinaigrette.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Salads
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: Plant-based
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 diced jalapenos (optional)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 cups tomato sauce (18 oz./500gm.)
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 cup bulgur
- ½ cup water
- 2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander), tender stems, and leaves
- 1 cup lime juice (about 3 fresh limes)
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1- 15 oz. (400 gm.) can black beans, drained, and rinsed (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 - 10 oz. (325 gm.) can of sweet corn (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes
- 1 small head chopped lettuce
- 1 avocado
- ½ cup black olives
- Heat a medium saucepan on the stove, and then add the diced onions and jalapenos. Cook the veggies for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften.
- Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and garlic powder and stir to combine everything.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, maple syrup, and lime juice, then add the bulgur and water.
- Mix everything and then adjust the heat to bring the ingredients to a low simmer. Cover the pot and cook the bulgur for 15 minutes until it is tender. Check after 10 minutes and give it a stir or add more water if necessary.
- To make the dressing, grind whole flax seeds, if necessary, in a spice grinder. Then add all the dressing ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend the dressing until smooth.
- To make the bowls, divide the bulgur, beans, corn, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, black olives, and other toppings into 4 portions in individual bowls. Serve the dressing on the side.
- The vinaigrette will thicken as it sits, so consider making it first. You may also want to prep the rest of the ingredients as the bulgur will take only 20 minutes to prepare.
- You can make the dressing and bulgur a day ahead. To reheat the bulgur on the stovetop, add ¼ a cup of water to keep it from scorching on the bottom.
- Make adjustments to the amounts of tomato sauce and water if necessary. You want to use about 2 ½ cups of liquid for 1 cup of bulgur. Add more water if all the liquid is absorbed before the bulgur is tender.
- Do not substitute cracked wheat for bulgur. It will take a lot longer to cook. A good substitute for bulgur for this recipe is quinoa or green lentils, although the texture will not be the same.
- Ground flax seeds are an oil-free thickener for the dressing. The best substitute for flax seeds is ground chia seeds or hemp seeds as a second alternative.
Keywords: bulgur bowls