Martha Rose Shulman's excellent Lentil and Bulgur Pilaf recipe

Servings 6


  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 small onion
  • 3/4 cup brown lentils
  • 3 garlic cloves 1 crushed, the other 2 minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup coarse bulgur
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds lightly toasted and coarsely ground
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley or a mixture of parsley and dill
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • Juice of 1 lemon to taste


  • Place the red lentils in a bowl, and cover with cold water. Soak for up to two hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Drain. The lentils should taste fresh, with a pleasant crunchy texture.
  • Cut the onion in half. Finely chop one half, and set aside. Combine the other half, intact, with the brown lentils and crushed garlic clove in a heavy saucepan. Add the bay leaf and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until the lentils are tender but still intact. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove the onion, garlic clove and bay leaf.
  • Place the bulgur in a 2-quart bowl. Place a strainer over the bowl, and drain the lentils so that the hot broth covers the bulgur. Add enough water to cover the bulgur by 1/2 inch. Cover the bowl, and allow the bulgur to sit until fluffy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Strain and press out excess liquid.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the minced onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic and cumin, and continue to cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in the bulgur and the brown and red lentils. Add the herbs and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and toss together. Remove from the heat, add lemon juice and pepper, taste and adjust salt. Serve hot or room temperature.


Uncooked, soaked red lentils have a refreshing flavor and a sproutlike crunch. They also retain their beguiling salmon hue, contributing welcome color to this pilaf.
Advance preparation: You can make the pilaf hours ahead of serving, but do not add the herbs. Reheat in a microwave or in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, then stir in the herbs and serve.
Nutritional information per serving: 248 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 3 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 40 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams dietary fiber; 11 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 12 grams protein
Martha Rose Shulman is the author of "The Very Best of Recipes for Health."
Photo credit: Andrew Scrivani for the New York Times NYTCREDIT