Homemade Spelt Bulgur

Spelt Bulgur is not available commercially, so we decided to make our own. Bulgur is an ancient food made from whole wheat berries. You cook them until tender, allow them to dry out, then crack them in a grinder or blender. Bulgur is used as a grain dish like rice, and is an essential ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes like kibbe (ground lamb and bulgur baked in a pan) and tabbouleh (parsley and bulgur salad).

We already had spelt berries in our pantry, so all we had to do was figure out how to make spelt bulgur from scratch.

Spelt Bulgur Recipe

spelt berries for spelt bulgur

Total time: 3 hours



Ingredients

Instructions

  • Some recipes call for soaking the whole spelt berries overnight, but it doesn’t make that much difference. Put the spelt berries in a pot with three or four times as much water as grain, bring to a boil and simmer until the spelt berries are tender, about 40 minutes (watch them pretty closely and start testing them to see if they’re done at about half an hour; cooking times will vary a lot depending on how fresh your spelt is).
  • When the spelt berries are tender, spread them on a sheet pan and dry thoroughly You can put them in a 150F oven, leave them in a warm place, or put them in the sun. You’ll want to shake the pan from time to time so they dry evenly.
  • Crack the dried spelt berries in a grinder or (carefully) in a blender: you risk winding up with bulgur flour if you blend them too long. Sieve the spelt bulgur after blending to get rid of the dust; otherwise it’ll cake up when you cook.
  • Store in a tightly closed container.

Lebanese Kibbe with Homemade Spelt Bulgur

Kibbe is a beloved dish all over the Middle East. We used our homemade spelt bulgur to make Lebanese sheet kibbe: layers of ground lamb mixed with bulgur and spices stuffed with onions and pine nuts baked to a golden-brown with a slightly crispy surface.

Lebanese Kibbe with Homemade Spelt Bulgur

spelt lebanese kibbe Prep Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine-grain bulgur, made from whole spelt kernels
  • 1 pound/400 grams lamb shoulder, ground fine
  • ¼ cup grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan
  • 2 cups sliced onions, 1/4-inch thick
  • ½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • Greek-style yogurt, for serving

Instructions

  1. Rinse the spelt bulgur well, then cover with cold water and soak for 20 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Put the drained spelt bulgur, lamb, grated onion, cumin and cayenne in a large mixing bowl. Season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well with your hands to distribute the seasoning. With a wooden spoon, beat in about 1/2 cup ice water. The mixture should be smooth and soft.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and fry gently, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 5 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Raise the heat and add 1/4 cup of the lamb mixture. Continue frying, allowing the meat to get crumbly and the onions to brown nicely, another 10 minutes or so. Stir in the pine nuts and taste. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a shallow 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then press half the remaining lamb mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Spread half the onion-pine nut mixture over the meat. Add the rest of the meat to the pan, patting and pressing it with wet hands to make a smooth top. If desired, score the top with a sharp paring knife to make a traditional diamond pattern at least 1/2-inch deep.
  5. Bake uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden. Spread with the remaining onion-pine nut mixture. Serve warm, at room temperature or cool, with a dollop of yogurt.
Adapted from The New York Times