Lazy Lady Bulgur Pilaf with Lamb, Walnuts, and Pistachios

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

For the past dozen years, Filiz Hösukoğlu, from Gaziantep, has been my Turkish translator and good friend. When I asked her to provide something with bulgur for this book, this delicious recipe and accompanying note arrived by e-mail: “This pilaf came about when I was having people over for dinner but didn't have the time to make what I'd intended, icli kofte, the Turkish version of kíbbeh. I had made the filling. Usually my neighbors come over and help me with the molding, but that day no one could come, so I simply made a pilaf and placed the icli kofte filling in the center. Everyone loved it! Thus my title for this dish, Lazy Lady's Pilaf.”

Serve with a bowl of Yogurt-Cucumber Salad, or storebought good-quality pickled vegetables.


  • ½ pound ground lamb with some fat, or use more olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • cup pistachios, peeled
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo or Turkish red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • ½ tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ tablespoon Turkish red pepper paste (see Mail Order Sources)
  • 1 cup large-grain bulgur
  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter, warmed
  • Yogurt-Cucumber Salad


  1. To prepare the filling: Place the lamb, olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat until the meat begins to exude its own moisture. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the liquid is absorbed by the meat and onion. At this point the meat and onion should begin to sauté. Mix in the pistachios, walnuts, Aleppo pepper, black pepper, and allspice. Remove to a side dish. Do not wash out the saucepan.
  2. To prepare the pilaf, place cups water in the same saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir in the tomato paste, Turkish pepper paste, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in the bulgur. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 16 minutes, or until the bulgur is tender. Stir in the warm clarified butter.
  3. Make a well in the bulgur. Spoon in the lamb filling and scrape some of the bulgur on top. Cover tightly and set in a warm place for 15 minutes, or until the bulgur is completely swollen. Use a long fork to stir and fluff the bulgur and filling. Serve with the Yogurt-Cucumber Salad.