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Bulgur Wheat Risotto with Asparagus

Bulgur wheat risotto, with new season asparagus, peas and smoked pancetta. A tasty dish that is simple and quick to prepare, making it a great mid-week dinner for all the family.

A frontal view of a plate of bulgar wheat risotto, a white waffled napkin, lemon and tarragon to the back and a glass of rose to the right.

Bulgur wheat risotto is a favourite dish in my home and a regular feature on my families dinner table. Bulgur wheat is a really tasty grain, full of flavour and with a nice texture.

However, it is one of those grains that people often forget about, or don’t now how to cook. Which is a pity as it is a really great tasting grain and very simple and straightforward to cook with.

As a grain, bulgur wheat has a nutty flavour, which makes it an ideal pairing with vegetables and cheese.

What is bulgur wheat?

A blue mottled plate with bulgar wheat risotto with asparagus, peas and tarragon sitting on a white napkin served with a glass of rose wine.

Bulgur wheat is a grain, a cracked wheat that originated in the Mediterranean. A staple food, commonly found in both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food.

It is used as the base grain in many dishes, including tabbouleh. This fibre rich, whole grain has a lovely nutty flavour that works great in dishes like this risotto.

However, once cooked it can also be cooled and added to salads. Mix it with some crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs like parsley and tarragon, and a lemon dressing and you have a wonderful, fresh tasting salad.

Bulgur Wheat Risotto – recipe steps:

Pan frying chopped pancetta to start a bulgar wheat risotto.
Add butter to the pan and gently saute the smoked pancetta
Sautéing diced onion, celery and bacon to start making a bulgar wheat risotto.
Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pan and cook gently
Adding stock to a bulgar wheat risotto.
Stir the bulgur wheat to the pan and gradually add the stock
Adding frozen peas and chopped asparagus to a bulgar wheat risotto.
Mix through the asparagus and peas
Adding cheese and butter to finish off a bulgar wheat risotto.
Finally, add the cheese, cream, butter and tarragon to finish the dish

How do I cook bulgur wheat?

Unlike some grains, bulgur wheat cooks really quickly. in approximately 15 minutes in either water or stock. However, this versatile grain and can be eaten hot or cold, it makes a great salad.

Think of it as being similar to rice or couscous, use it in similar style dishes.

Recipe Ingredients:


New season’s asparagus is one of the highlights of the food calendar in my opinion. Fresh, British grown, asparagus is an utter joy to eat and I ensure I eat plenty of this delicious green vegetable when it’s available.

It works really well in this dish with the nutty bulgur wheat, the sweet tpeas and the smoked pancetta. These flavours marry together really well.

Frozen Garden Peas:

We have used frozen peas in this recipe as it’s something most of us will have in our freezers. However, I am a great fan of using frozen peas in my cooking. In fact I rarely use anything else!

Frozen peas are frozen within hours of being picked so the process retains their fresh, sweetness. Too often I’ve bought bags of fresh peas from the supermarket only to find they have a bitterness to them.

Of course, the best peas are those I pick straight from my garden, but in all honesty they never make the pan either and are usually shelled and eaten straight away!


Pancetta is a salt-cured and dried pork belly, used in Italian cooking to flavour soups, stews, risottos. A great alternative would be to use a smoked streaky bacon.

A top down view of a spring bulgar wheat risotto with peas, asparagus and topped with tarragon, a glass of rose to the right and tarragon and lemon to the left.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

This recipe, as is the case with most risottos, is best eaten immediately. There is a freshness to the dish and this wouldn’t be the case if the dish was reheated. That’s not to say that any leftovers can’t still be reheated and enjoyed. It just won’t have the lightness.

Adapt the recipe for vegetarians:

This recipe is very simple to adapt to a meat free recipe, suitable for vegetarians or anyone looking to include a few meat free days in their diet. Firstly remove the smoked pancetta from the dish. It will change the flavour, but the risotto will be no worse for it.

Secondly, substitute the Parmesan with a suitable vegetarian cheese.

Pin the recipe:

Bulgur wheat risotto, with new season asparagus, peas and smoked pancetta. A tasty dish that is simple and quick to prepare, making it a great mid-week dinner for all the family.

Additional recipe suggestions:

If you like this recipe then try some of our other dishes:

For other great ideas on how to feed the family, have a look at our Ultimate Guide to Family Dinners. This guide if full of recipes, hint and tips to get inspire you.

A blue marbled plate with bulgar wheat risotto with peas and asparagus, a glass of rose to the back a marbled pinch pot of salt sat on a white waffled napkin.

Bulgur Wheat Risotto with Asparagus, Peas & Pancetta

Bulgur wheat risotto, with new season asparagus, peas and smoked pancetta. A tasty dish that is simple and quick to prepare, a great mid-week dinner.
5 from 11 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 614kcal


  • 30 g butter
  • 100 g smoked pancetta (diced)
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 sticks celery (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 300 g bulgur wheat
  • 1 ltr vegetable stock (heated up)
  • 200 g asparagus (chopped)
  • 150 g frozen peas

To finish:

  • 20 g butter
  • 100 g parmesan (grated)
  • 2 tbsp fresh tarragon (chopped)
  • salt & pepper


  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the smoked pancetta to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until the fat has rendered down and the pancetta is starting to crisp.
  • Add the onion and celery to the pan and saute gently for 5 minutes, taking care to soften but not colour the vegetables. Next add the garlic to the pan and continue to cook for a further minute.
  • Next add the bulgur wheat to the pan and give it a good stir to coat it completely in the vegetable and butter mixture.
  • Turn the temperature down to medium low. Gradually pour the stock into the pan and stir well. Keep adding the stock a little at a time, allowing the bulgur wheat to absorb the liquid. Don't add it all at once, you want to cook it low and slow to allow the wheat to soften. This will take approximately 15 minutes.
  • With the last pour of stock, add the asparagus and peas to the bulgur wheat and cook gently for to cook through, 2-3 minutes.
  • To finish the dish, add the parmesan cheese, butter and chopped tarragon. Season with salt and pepper and mix well to combine. Serve immediately.


This recipe can be simply adapted to suit vegetarians. The only meat based product in the dish is the smoked pancetta, simply leave it out.
If you can’t find fresh tarragon for this risotto, fresh basil or parsley will also work in the dish.
Nutrition Facts
Bulgur Wheat Risotto with Asparagus, Peas & Pancetta
Amount Per Serving
Calories 614 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 14g88%
Cholesterol 60mg20%
Sodium 677mg29%
Potassium 727mg21%
Carbohydrates 71g24%
Fiber 17g71%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin A 1320IU26%
Vitamin C 22mg27%
Calcium 394mg39%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

• Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only •

Course : Main Course
Cuisine : Mediterranean
Keyword : Easy, Quick, quick meals, Simple
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Recipe Rating

Eb Gargano | Easy Peasy Foodie

Monday 11th of May 2020

What a lovely idea! I ADORE bulgur wheat and asparagus, so this is right up my street :-D Eb x


Tuesday 12th of May 2020

Thank you Eb, it's a very nice pairing as like you these are two of my favourite ingredients. Also, it cooks a lot quicker than a traditional rice based risotto. Lesley x


Sunday 10th of May 2020

What a clever idea to use Bulgur instead of rice to make a risotto! It looks absolutely delicious with those Spring greens - I must try it asap!


Monday 11th of May 2020

Thank you Sylvie, bulgur wheat makes a very tasty risotto and it's nutty flavour works really well with Spring green vegetables. Lesley

Chloe Edges | Feast Glorious Feast

Sunday 10th of May 2020

Fabulous - I really need to try bulgar wheat!


Monday 11th of May 2020

Thank you Chloe, it's a really nice grain, quick to cook with a lovely nutty flavour. Lesley


Friday 8th of May 2020

This looks delicious - I've never used bulgar wheat for a risotto but I love the fact that it cooks so quickly. Asparagus and pea is a great combination.


Friday 8th of May 2020

Thank you Rosemary, it's much a tasty grain with a lovely nutty flavour. It works really well in a risotto and like you say, cooks in no time! Lesley x

Midge @ Peachicks' Bakery

Friday 8th of May 2020

There is nothing like British Asparagus! And for us, its always the first veg up at the allotment. Ours has been up a couple of weeks and this would be a perfect way to use it! Thanks for sharing! #CookBlogShare