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Meatless cabbage rolls with bulgur – What is bulgur and why it’s important to add it to the recipe

You may have wondered at least once what bulgur is, especially as this food, which is the basis of the daily diet in some parts of the Middle East, is becoming increasingly popular in other parts of the world too, even if it is often confused with couscous.

Meatless cabbage rolls with bulgur. Ingredients and preparation

Bulgur is a product made from coarsely ground durum wheat. As a substitute for classic rice, it can be used in pilaf, stuffed peppers, soups and cabbage rolls. Store-bought bulgur precooked, so it can be prepared quickly and easily, by just soaking it in warm water for about 20 minutes.

Unlike plain rice, bulgur is rich in fiber, protein and vitamins, and it has a low glycemic index. Bulgur is also an important source of carbohydrates, iron, magnesium, vitamins B and E, calcium and phosphorus. Because it contains gluten, like all wheat products, it should not be eaten by people who are gluten intolerant.

Bulgur is usually sold in supermarkets in plastic bags. Once the packaging has been opened, it should be stored in an airtight container protected from light and should be used within six months of purchase, as the taste may change over time.

Ingredients for 20 cabbage rolls

  • 1 medium-sized fresh cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon grated tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon grated pepper paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt

For the filling

  • 250 g large-grain bulgur
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried and crushed mint
  • 1 small sprig of parsley
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chili flakes

Meatless cabbage rolls with bulgur - What is bulgur and why it’s important to add it to the recipe


Clean the cabbage, removing the outer leaves only if necessary. Fill a pot halfway with water, add some salt and bring to a boil. When the water starts boiling, add the cabbage and cook with the lid on for 8-10 minutes. Turn the cabbage in the pot several times so it softens evenly. Remove the cabbage to a colander and leave to cool. Then tear off the leaves one by one until you have about 20 large leaves. Remove the remaining core, chop it finely and add it to the bottom of the pot in which you will cook the cabbage rolls.

Heat up a little oil in a large frying pan, and sauté the finely chopped onion until it softens and becomes translucent (10-15 minutes, over low heat). Add the cumin, mint, chopped parsley and bulgur. Season with salt, black pepper and chili, then stir to homogenize the filling.

Take a cabbage leaf, cut a V-shape in the area towards the elbow where it is hard. Add a spoonful of stuffing and roll. Place the sausage in the pot on top of the chopped cabbage.

Next dissolve the tomato and pepper paste in a cup of water, add the crushed garlic and lemon juice (about 2-3 tablespoons). Pour this mixture over the cabbage rolls, top up with water until you cover the cabbage rolls, and then add a last cup of water. Pour in the oil and sprinkle with salt.

Place a plate upside down on top of the cabbage rolls to keep them under water. Place the pot on the stove and bring the contents to a boil over low heat. Place the lid on leaving a slight gap. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Check to make sure the bulgur and cabbage are cooked.

Once the cabbage rolls are cooked, leave them to cool for at least 30 minutes. The bulgur will absorb most of the sauce in the pot.

You can enjoy the cabbage rolls with bulgur sprinkled with a little dried mint and chili flakes.

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