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Bulgur and Lentil Pilaf With Leeks

A comforting weekday meal that can be customized with a few flavorful variations.

  • Author: Dr. Rosane Oliveira
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
Print Recipe


  • 2/3 cup lentils, uncooked
  • 1 cup leeks, chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 2 tsp garlic, fresh, minced
  • 1/2 cup bulgur, uncooked
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups leafy green vegetables (e.g., chard, kale, mustard, spinach) (optional)


  1. Transfer lentils to a small saucepan. Add water to cover lentils by at least 2 inches of water.
  2. Cook lentils over medium-high heat until almost tender, about 15-20 mkinutes. If using an electric pressure cooker, cook lentils for 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. As lentils are soaking, clean and halve leeks then cut them into thin crosswise slices.
  4. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook 5 to 10 minutes until crispy. Set half of them aside for garnishing.
  5. Keep half of the leeks in the pot. Add garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Add bulgur and cook for 2 minutes, then add cumin and cayenne pepper and cook for 30 seconds.
  6. Add water and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove bay leaves. If using leafy green vegetables, rinse and add them to the pot, cooking 5 more minutes before serving.
  8. Transfer lentil and bulgur to serving dish and top with reserved leeks.

Notes: This is a versatile recipe that allows a few variations. For example, long-grain rice can be used instead of bulgur, carmelized onions can replace leeks, and the dish can be served with dairy-free plain yogurt.

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Rosane Oliveira, DVM, PhD

President & CEO, Plant-Based Life Foundation | Dr. Rosane Oliveira combines a lifelong passion for nutrition with 25 years of genetics research to create programs that help people develop healthy habits on their journey towards a more plant-based lifestyle. She is a Visiting Clinical Professor in Public Health Sciences and was the founding director of the first Integrative Medicine program at the UC Davis School of Medicine. She completed her postgraduate studies in Brazil and did her postdoctoral training in immunogenetics and functional genomics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.