Bulgur with Onion, Tomatoes and Cheese

TRADITIONAL Chian bulgur is not the presteamed wheat we use today but coarsely ground hard local wheat, milled in the hand-operated stone mills one still finds in use in Chian homes. For lunch or dinner, it is sautéed in olive oil with onions, tomatoes and hot peppers and topped with the local cheese and, occasionally, chopped herbs.

This recipe is an adaptation of that dish.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup coarse bulgur (see Sources)
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups water, Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup grated ripe tomatoes (see Note) or canned diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • cup crumbled feta cheese, plus more for serving
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


In a large saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onion over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Add the bulgur and Aleppo pepper or pepper flakes and sauté, stirring, until the bulgur is coated with oil. Add the water or stock, tomatoes and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the bulgur has the consistency of a very moist risotto. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 3 minutes.

Stir the feta into the bulgur. Taste and add salt if necessary (feta is usually quite salty, so you may not need any) and black pepper to taste. Serve in bowls, sprinkled with feta and parsley and drizzled with oil.