Not Exotic, But a Hearty, Healthful Whole Grain
Grains are a mealtime staple at many tables, from plain white rice to exotic choices such as quinoa and farro. The healthiest choices are whole grains, and one that's often overlooked is cracked wheat. It's still considered a "whole" grain, even though it's chopped into small pieces, because it contains all of the wheat's goodness, including the fiber-rich bran and the nutritious wheat germ. You can cook cracked wheat as a hot breakfast cereal, but it's at its versatile best when prepared rice-fashion and used in pilafs or salads.
Combine water and salt in a medium-sized pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Alternately, cook your cracked wheat in broth for added flavor.
Stir in the cracked wheat and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting on your stove.
Cook the cracked wheat at a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Your cracked wheat may cook more quickly or slowly, depending on how coarsely it is ground. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Remove from the heat when the wheat has absorbed all the liquid and the cracked wheat is cooked through and chewy.
Combine the cracked wheat and water or broth in a bowl.
Cook on high for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir the mixture three or four times during cooking.
Allow the cracked wheat to sit for an additional 2 minutes to absorb the remaining liquid.
Slow Cooker Instructions
Combine cracked wheat and water or broth in the crock of your slow cooker.
Cook on high for about 2 hours.
Drain off any remaining liquid.
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- Joy of Cooking; Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker
- Bob's Red Mill: Basic Cooking Instructions for Cracked Wheat
- Whole Grains Council: What's a Whole Grain? A Refined Grain?
- Cracked wheat is similar to bulgur, which is made by wheat berries that are steamed and dried before they are cut. Bulgur cooks much more quickly than cracked wheat and has a lighter, softer texture.
- Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad made with cooked cracked wheat or bulgur, tomatoes, parsley, mint, onions and spices. Tabbouleh is usually served cold, and the cooked cracked wheat should be cooled before using it.
- Combine hot, cooked cracked wheat with fruit, honey or maple syrup for a filling and nutritious hot breakfast cereal.
- Cooked cracked wheat may be added to bread and other baked goods when it is warm or cold, but not when it is hot.
Heidi Almond worked in the natural foods industry for more than seven years before becoming a full-time freelancer in 2010. She has been published in "Mother Earth News," "Legacy" magazine and in several local publications in Duluth, Minn. In 2002 Almond graduated cum laude from an environmental liberal arts college with a concentration in writing.