Food Daily Dish

Pudding, pilaf and more: Recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen

Did someone say bulgur? The wheat product is a staple of the Fertile Crescent and popular in pilafs, tabbouleh, kibbeh and a variety of other dishes, as writer Faye Levy explores:

"When I lived in the Middle East, I learned that tender tabbouleh salad and crunchy fried kibbeh, the celebrated Levantine croquette, share a key ingredient: bulgur. Since ancient times, bulgur has been a staple in the Fertile Crescent, where it is popular today as pilaf and is used in a variety of other dishes, including stuffed vegetables, lentil entrees, meat stews and stuffings for poultry. In fact, the word "bulgur" comes from Turkish, and southeastern Turkey may be the area where wheat was first cultivated.

"Bulgur could be considered one of the world's first convenience foods. To be made into bulgur, wheat grains are parboiled, dried, ground and sifted to separate the pieces into different sizes. This process makes bulgur one of the quickest-cooking whole grains. In fact, bulgur does not need to be cooked at all. Soaking bulgur in water softens it enough to make it pleasant to eat, and this is the classic way to prepare it for salads such as tabbouleh and its spicy cousin kisir, flavored with red pepper paste and cumin."

Don't worry, she includes recipes -- including a dessert recipe for bulgur pudding!

This week's recipes include:

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You can find Noelle Carter on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest. Email Noelle at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

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