Culinary Institute of America Recipe
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Bulgur and Lentil Pilaf with Caramelized Onions

This healthy and delicious combination of bulgur wheat and lentils makes for an appealing grain-based side dish, packed with the flavor of sweet caramelized onions and spicy crushed red pepper flakes.

Chef's note: Use french/green, brown, and red lentils to create color in your dish. Cook each type of lentil separately. Cook green and brown lentils 35 to 40 minutes and red lentils for 15 minutes.

This recipe is from our Gourmet Meals in Minutes (Lebhar-Friedman, 2004) cookbook.

CIA's bulgar and lentil pilaf recipe



Makes 12 Servings

  • 1 cup lentils, washed
  • 6 1/2 cups chicken broth, or water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 average-sized onions, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups bulgur, coarse grain
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Boil the lentils in 3 cups of chicken broth or water until tender, about 20 minutes. Reserve any residual cooking liquid.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, heat the butter and olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Slowly sauté onions until caramelized, over medium-low heat, stirring often. Reserve in pan.
  3. Bring the remaining 3 1/2 cups chicken stock or water to a boil, adding bulgur, residual cooking liquid, salt, and tomato paste. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the black pepper and red pepper flakes to the caramelized onions. Pour the mixture over the bulgur and add the lentils, stirring gently. Season with salt and pepper, as needed.

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