Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Casserole

5 from 5 votes

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This colorful, protein-packed bulgur wheat and sweet potoato vegetarian casserole can be served as a main course or a substantial side.

Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Gratin

In this Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Casserole recipe, the bulgur wheat is first cooked, then layered into a vegetarian casserole with sweet potatoes, lightly spicy black beans, and melty provolone or Gruyere (more on that shortly), then baked. Layers of deliciousness. My mother said this was “one of the best things she’s ever eaten.” I honestly thought she was kidding me for a bit because she’s not that prone to hyperbolic compliments.

Getting more whole grains onto our tables is something most of us are thinking about and, in fact, possibly even stressing about. Before you start cooking with them, they can seem so mysterious, so intimidating. But they are just a grain, like rice or anything else, and they can enter your cooking repertoire in so many different ways. This sweet potato and black bean casserole is a great place to start!

If you’re serving this substantial vegetarian dish up as a main course, pair it with a green veggie like Honey Mustard Green Beans or a fresh Green Salad with Chickpeas and Spicy Honey Tahini Dressing. This casserole can also be a hearty, warming side dish and pairs beautifully alongside Simple Lemon-Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast or Lemon-Rosemary Chicken Thighs. Or pair it with Southwestern Vegan Black Bean Burgers to keep things vegetarian.

Spoonful of Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Gratin.

Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Gratin: This casserole can be served as a vegetarian main course or a substantial side.

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What’s the Difference Between a Casserole and Gratin?

The words casserole and gratin are often interchanged. They’re both baked dishes filled with delicious flavors, often with some sort of topping. In French, au gratin translates literally to “by grating” or “with a crust.” Au Gratin Potatoes are the most popular dish of this variety. In this dish (which is technically a gratin), thinly sliced sweet potatoes are topped with; the cheese bubbles up and cooks, getting nicely browned and crusty.

Ingredients

  • Bulgur wheat – This hearty grain makes up the heft of this dish and soaks up the goodness of all the other flavors.
  • Fresh tomatoes – I like to add these in for sweetness and acidity.
  • Canned black beans – A pantry staple, these simple beans pack a protein-powered punch.
  • Cheese – You have several options here — pick your favorite!
  • Scallions – These long, skinny, oniony guys become sweet and tender when cooked.
  • Sour cream – For a little bit of tang!
  • Heavy cream – A bit of heavy cream helps to add the richness factor to this dish.
  • Chicken or vegetable broth – I prefer using broth over water for extra flavor. Use vegetable broth for a vegetarian casserole.
  • Pureed chipotles in adobo sauce – These aren’t super spicy, I promise! The adobo sauce adds a complex, smokey flavor.
  • Sweet potato Packed with Vitamin A, these tubers add substance, sweetness, and a hearty, earthy flavor.
  • Lime wedges (to serve) – A bit of acidity balances out the richness of many of the other ingredients.
Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Gratin on a fork.

Variations and Substitutions

  • You could really use any cooked whole grain you like here: brown rice, quinoa, or couscous, for instance.
  • If it’s not tomato season, you can substitute diced canned tomatoes — I’ve done both, and both work just fine.
  • For the cheese, you can use Provolone, cheddar, or Gruyere. Provolone or cheddar are milder, while Gruyere is more assertive with its nutty flavor. Swiss or Emmental are other options that would work here.

How to Make Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Casserole

  1. Prep your baking dish: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a shallow 2-quart baking dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine your ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the cooked bulgur, tomatoes, black beans, 1 ½ cups cheese, and half the scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, heavy cream, chicken broth, pureed chipotles, salt, and pepper. Add the sour cream mixture to the bulgur wheat mixture and combine well.
  3. Bake the casserole: Layer the bulgur mixture and the sliced sweet potatoes, alternately in the dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over, cover with foil, and put in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for 35 to 40 more minutes, until browned and bubbly.
  4. Rest your casserole and serve: Remove from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes, sprinkle the rest of the scallions on top, and serve hot. Serve with lime wedges and pass the additional sour cream, if desired.
Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Gratin on a plate.

Pro Cooking Tips

  • Bulgur wheat takes a quick 20 minutes to cook on the stove. See here an in-depth guide on how to cook bulgur wheat to perfection.
  • Passing lime wedges on the side to squirt over each portion gives the dish a wonderful bright finishing note.
  • A good measure for telling when your casserole is done cooking is the knife test: insert a knife into the casserole, and if it slides in easily through the potatoes, you’re all done!

Storage and Leftovers

Leftovers will keep for 5 days well covered in the fridge. This casserole reheats nicely. It will take about 30 minutes in a 300-degree oven, a little less time if you are reheating it from room temp. You can also reheat portions in the microwave.

What to Serve With Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Casserole

Bulgur wheat casserole on a colorful plate with salad.

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5 from 5 votes

Bulgur Wheat, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Casserole

This colorful, protein-packed bulgur wheat and sweet potoato vegetarian casserole can be served as a main course or a substantial side.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 10 People

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups cooked bulgur wheat
  • 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (or 1 15-ounce can; no need to drain)
  • 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 ½ cups shredded or slivered provolone (or Gruyere or other firm cheese; divided)
  • 6 scallions (white and green parts; trimmed and minced; divided)
  • ¼ cup sour cream (plus more to serve if desired)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons pureed chipotles in adobo sauce
  • Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 large sweet potato (very thinly sliced)
  • Lime wedges (to serve)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly oil a shallow 2-quart baking dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cooked bulgur, tomatoes, black beans, 1 ½ cups cheese, and half the scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, heavy cream, chicken broth, pureed chipotles, salt, and pepper. Add the sour cream mixture to the quinoa mixture and mix well.
  • Place half of the bulgur mixture in the prepared pan, layer over half the sliced sweet potatoes, barely overlapping the edges of the slices, and repeat using the rest of the bulgur mixture and the rest of the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over the casserole, cover with foil, and put in the oven.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil, and continue to bake for 35 to 40 more minutes, until browned and bubbly, and a knife inserted in the casserole slides in easily through the potatoes.
  • Remove from the oven, let sit for 5 minutes, sprinkle the rest of the scallions on top, and serve hot. Serve with lime wedges and pass the additional sour cream, if desired.

Notes

  • Bulgur wheat takes a quick 20 minutes to cook on the stove. See here an in-depth guide on how to cook yours to perfection.
  • Passing lime wedges on the side to squirt over each portion gives the dish a wonderful bright finishing note.
  • A good measure for telling when your casserole is done cooking is the knife test: insert a knife into the casserole, and if it slides in easily through the potatoes, you’re all done!

Nutrition

Calories: 412.99kcal, Carbohydrates: 48.18g, Protein: 20.02g, Fat: 17.11g, Saturated Fat: 9.82g, Cholesterol: 55.59mg, Sodium: 260.19mg, Potassium: 535.28mg, Fiber: 12.67g, Sugar: 2.39g, Vitamin A: 2545.85IU, Vitamin C: 6.95mg, Calcium: 398.22mg, Iron: 2.71mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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2 Comments

  1. I was looking for a recipe to use up our leftover bulgur rice (we had a family get-together and got Mediterranean takeout, and there was an extra half-tray of bulgur rice left over after the meat and veggies were gone), and this looked amazing! I made it for my family and they LOVED it and were excited to have the rest for leftovers the next day!

    I think the 2-quart casserole dish recommended might be a typo; it was too small for me based on following the recipe, so if I remember correctly I used a 9×13 casserole dish instead and it was just right! Just eyeball the amount of filling you have and see which size you think is best!

    I also made two adaptations:
    1. I don’t care for the flavor of chipotle, so I found a can of tomatoes that had jalapenos mixed in and that gave the casserole a little heat/depth of flavor too!
    2. I used plant-based cream instead of heavy cream to lighten it up a bit/reduce the dairy impact for lactose-intolerant folks and it worked great! It’s so mixed into everything else that you don’t notice the difference.

    This is a great recipe and I’m making it again for my family tonight! Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

  2. Delicious recipe! Easy to cook as directed.
    *I made some tweaks for our personal situation (using what we had in the fridge) and our mostly vegan and plant based lifestyle with just occasional animal products.
    *To lower the fat I used fat free cream cheese for the sour cream and Silk almond coconut plant milk blend instead of the heavy cream.
    * I used half of the cheese (substituted Vegan Cheeses Daiya mozza shreds and Violife cheddar shreds) and added 1/4 c of Nutritional Yeast to the bulgur mixture.
    I’m assuming that you meant to type bulgur into the directions, not quinoa. :-) I enjoyed this recipe and look forward to trying some of your others! Thank you!!