Serious Eats: Recipes

Meat Lite: Bulgur 'Risotto' with Roasted Asparagus

Note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless.

Photograph by sassyradish on Flickr

People often ask me how I develop recipes. Most of the time, recipes are born from conversations I have with food people or things I see in restaurants. Or both. Recently I was chatting with my co-author Tara Mataraza Desmond about my new love affair with bulgur for breakfast. She said she also likes the ingredient and recently used it to make a kind of risotto. I filed that away in my brain.

Soon thereafter, I was interviewing chef Jayson Grossberg for my Philadelphia Magazine review about his restaurant, Alphabet Soup, where I had tasted an incomparably creamy risotto. Grossberg explained that he was traveling in Italy when he tasted the creamiest risotto of his life. He tried to ask the waiter how it was made, but the language barrier made it impossible to communicate. Finally the waiter went and fetched the chef, who, as it turns out, was an American. He revealed the secret, in plain English: brie cheese. Eureka!

I knew I would try that technique on my own, and as I was scrolling through my mental idea file I remembered what Tara had said, and this recipe was born. The creaminess of the brie, the nuttiness of the bulgur, and the sweetness of the roasted asparagus is a delicious combo.

About the author: Joy Manning is the restaurant critic at Philadelphia Magazine. She blogs at

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