Turkish Recipes: Ispanaklı Bulgur Pilavı

Last Sunday, we were on our way to Çalış market and we were feeling the need for food – right now! Most of the time, we opt for gözleme because we can eat this at the pazar – but last week, we just had the taste for kuşbaşılı pide. When the pide arrived, not only was it just what we were looking for, but the restaurant owner’s wife had been cooking for the family. Lucky us! Along with the pide came a side plate of bulgur wheat and spinach.

In the past, we would have gratefully accepted this little added freebie extra and eaten it without too much thought about what the dish was. We’d discuss ingredients but then they would disappear somewhere into the depths of my brain.

These days however, we write a blog and Turkish recipes are very much a part of the blog. Anything new that appears on our table is forked through, discussed and kept to the forefront of my brain.

The bulgur wheat and spinach was really spicy and tasty and an interesting alternative to the regular bulgur recipe we have become familiar with. Also, it had been given to us just out of niceness and hospitality – which made the dish extra tasty – and so we had a go at making our own when we got home.

Turkish Recipes – Ispanaklı Bulgur Pilavı

To cook the bulgur:

Bulgur Wheat

Leave the bulgur covered for five minutes after it is cooked

  • Fill a tea / coffee mug with coarse bulgur wheat (pilavlık bulgur).
  • Add a glug of olive oil to a large saucepan and place on a low heat.
  • Pour the bulgur wheat into the pan and stir for a couple of minutes.
  • Next, add two mugs of water to the pan, bring to the boil and then cover and turn the heat to low.
  • The bulgur wheat should absorb the water and cook through in around ten minutes.

For the Spinach:

Spinach & Bulgur Wheat

Biber salçası makes this bulgur recipe a little more interesting

  • Cut an onion into half-moons
  • Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and then add the onions. Keep the heat high at first so the onions become slightly singed around the edges and then turn the heat to medium.
  • At this point, we also added 2 chopped hot chillies, some crushed cumin seeds and a pinch of salt.
  • Add two ladles of water to the pan and a tablespoonful of biber salçası (red pepper paste). Tomato purée is fine if you can’t get red pepper paste.
  • Stir the mixture until the paste has dissolved into the water.
  • Now add half a kilo of chopped spinach, remove the pan from the heat and mix the spinach in till it wilts.
Ispanaklı Bulgur, Spinach Bulgur

The bulgur wheat and spinach is mixed in the pan

Add the bulgur wheat to the spinach and pepper paste and mix everything together.

Turkish Bulgur Wheat & Spinach

A serving of ıspanaklı bulgur pilavı

Serve the ıslanaklı bulgur as a side to baked or grilled meats. We had it with roasted chicken thighs and big dollop of süzme yoghurt. It’s lovely!

Confession time! This recipe says to use half a kilo of spinach, which is closer to what we ate in the restaurant. In the photos, there is only 250g of spinach because we had eaten some the day before when I made ıspanaklı yumurta again. That dish really is scrumptious!

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  1. I’m a huge bulgur fan, and always looking for great recipes – the red pepper adds a great depth.

  2. @ Belinda: The red pepper makes a huge difference to the flavours. We love bulgur so we were happy to find yet another way of cooking it.

  3. I love bulgur and veggie (such as spinach,chard,collard greens)togetherness. I’ll prepare similar recipe for lunch…chard with bulgur:)

    Take care Julia!

  4. Wow that spinach looks AMAZING. hmmm… Thanks for posting the recipes, I can’t wait to try this next week!!!

  5. well you inspired me to cook this for supper tonight – with coated fried chicken, it was voted delicious and different – many many thanks – I have yet to try any of your recipes that have not become firm favourites!

  6. @ Hulya: It’s been a new discovery for us. We really enjoyed it.
    @ Jillian: Spinach and bulgur is lovely!
    @ Sue: Thanks for the lovely comment. We love bulgur wheat with chicken. They go so well together.

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