Freekeh is delicious – it is a roasted, green wheat. It is great in salads and pilafs, and today we combine it with burghul (cracked wheat) for a delicious pilaf. It can be served as is, or chopped or grated vegetables and herbs can be stirred through. Use in place of rice or as an accompaniment for dishes from countries ranging from Afghanistan to Greece.
This is a versatile Summer salad. The base can be a grain, dried bean, lentil or even tiny pasta. Indeed you can mix them as well. Use couscous, barley, freekeh, burghul, Israeli couscous, small pasta, horse gram, quinoa, rice, puy lentils, matki beans, butter beans or haricot beans. This is definitely a salad that helps you clean out your pantry – use any grain, lentil or bean that you have available. Today I am using barley mixed with a little tiny pasta.
Just a note about the salad dressing. It uses a curry powder. Either use a good quality one or make your own. My Mother used to make a Curried Rice Salad, and we loved it. This is my take on that salad. Today I have used barley as a base, with a little tiny tubular pasta. It is great alongside an Halloumi Burger and steamed sweetcorn!
In the time of COVID-19 we are cooking very simple meals, and our routines have changed dramatically. We often cook late in the evening instead of early in the day. We are adjusting, but like it at a time where the rushed requirements of travelling to meetings, offices, and events have disappeared.
We, like everyone else, are scouring our cupboards and our challenge is really to reduce the amount of food we normally keep. Because I cook all the time we have so much in the pantry, and many ends-of-packets that haven’t been used up.
So today it is coarse burghul‘s turn. We cook this in a simple but special way – with butter and olive oil – then we let it steam off the heat for up to 20 mins. It is the way we love to cook it. Note that it needs different handling to the finer burghuls that are available. If you have never explored different styles of burghul, head down to your local Middle Eastern or Afghan grocery.
Anyway then we mix the cooked burghul with some cooked beetroot and eggplant, and toss through some gremolata. A worthy dish indeed. A plate of incredible tones of deep pink and purple—lurid colours indeed, but such warming, and super tasty flavours.
Burghul seems to be used mostly a Winter grain, but I would like to reassure you that Summery Salads based on Burghul are terrific. Juicy with ripe tomatoes, fragrant with Pomegranate Molasses, crunchy with nuts, cooling with cucumber and herbs. A perfect fit for a lunch on a hot day, sitting under the grapevines.
There is a Lebanese dish, sometimes called Mafrouket Laban (not to be confused with the dessert of the same name), made from burghul (aka Bulgur) and yoghurt with plenty of herbs. It is a delight in Summer. Because the burghul is soaked, it is the sort of dish you begin in the morning, and leave for 4 or 5 hours, then mix in the remaining ingredients and serve for lunch or dinner.
The burghul soaks in the yoghurt for a few hours to form the base of the salad. It is often served with tender young vine leaves, so it is a perfect dish for Spring and Early Summer. With all that yoghurt, it is a cooling dish, perfect for the first heat waves that we encounter in Spring as it warms up towards Summer.
Use the coarse burghul for this dish if you can (otherwise, medium will be fine).
The great thing about congee is that, once you have perfected the cooking method, it can be made with a wide range of lentils, beans, grains and rice. Rice congee is the most well-known, but congees can be made from rice mixed with other grains, beans and lentils, or made without rice at all.
Today we made a clean-out-the-pantry congee, and it is delicious. It was made with lentils, burghul, millet and rice. In the photo it is topped with roasted cauliflower, green herby sauce, herbs, roasted cauliflower leaves, sesame oil and pickles. But you can top your congee with whatever your heart desires. That is the beauty of congee.
Remember to cook congee on the lowest possible heat, so it is barely simmering. Use a heat diffuser, especially for the second half of cooking, otherwise it may stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. I prefer to cook it in a Chinese clay pot – I believe the flavour is superior, and I keep my pot for congee only.
Similar dishes include Rice and Raisin Porridge, Congee with Ginger, Mushrooms and Chilli-Black Bean Sauce, Scallion Claypot Rice, Congee, Barley, Millet and Mung Congee, Red Rice and Adzuki Congee, and Quinoa Porridge.
This is a salad with flavours of the Middle East, taking burghul and tomatoes and mixing them with spices, walnuts and pomegranate molasses.
It is a lovely salad, so well suited to Autumn and early Winter (if you can still get good tomatoes). Burghul is available from Middle Eastern groceries – our local shop has about 5 different varieties. This salad uses fine burghul.
Are you after other Burghul dishes? Try Burghul, Walnut and Yoghurt Salad with Pomegranate, Tomato and Walnut Salad with Pomegranate Dressing, A Quick Burghul Salad with Olives, Pomegranate and Hazelnuts, and Cauliflower, Mung Bean and Broken Wheat Kitchari.
We’ve been doing Wintery salads lately – rice, pasta, burghul salads. Today’s salad is a grain salad. Use farro, freekeh, wheat berries, barley, coarse burghul or any other grain that is a bit on the chewy side. Surprisingly, the grain is paired with grapes for quite a special salad.
This is a Bittman Salad, one of the 101 Salads from his New York Times article. We have been making them over the past Summers, and are now down to the last few.
Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Burghul, Pistachio and Tomato Salad, Burghul, Walnut and Yoghurt Salad with Pomegranate, Burghul, Walnut and Tomato Salad, Toasted Barley with Pistachios and Raisins, Parsley and Barley Salad with Marinated Feta.
Did you know there are so many different types of Burghul, from extra fine to extra coarse? You must search out your Middle Eastern grocery and explore the different types. At the moment, we are using a coarse one that comes mixed with small pieces of toasted vermicelli noodles. Its delicious and the noodles add a lovely visual and textural effect.
This is a lovely easy salad where Burghul is mixed chickpeas, and with tomatoes, herbs and spices. Like most salads made from grains, not much is needed to make the salad utterly delicious. The likes of Ottolenghi may disagree with me, they layer fabulous flavours upon fabulous flavours, but for weekdays, for the utter enjoyment of the ingredients, and indeed for frugal pantries, the simple approach is utterly delicious.
Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Chickpea Salad with Olives, Baked Dakos with Tomatoes and Chickpeas, Burghul with Pinenuts and Sultanas, Burghul Salad with Pomegranates, Olives and Hazelnuts, and Chickpea Salad with Preserved Lemon and Feta.
Or browse all of our Burghul recipes, and our Chickpea recipes. All of our many many salads are here, or check just the Bittman Salads that we have cooked. Alternatively, explore our Early Winter dishes.
Red cabbage rarely features in our kitchen, but today it is very present on the kitchen bench. We have been trialling a dish of broad bean mash with bulgur which coats red cabbage cooked with sultanas. They are not perfect yet, but we share with you the process because, boy, they are delicious.
Red cabbage with apple, sultanas and pine nuts is a standard European dish, delicious in its own right. And we often incorporate broad beans into kofta/vada/kibbeh type dishes. Today they come together into these lovely mid morning snacks. The recipe is very loose – my apologies – we are still playing with quantities. If you make them, let us know how they turn out.