03 March, 2013

What Do I Do With This? Dry Grains Edition

Bulgar Groats
If you've ever wandered past the produce section of a Whole Foods, you've probably noticed a million canisters of dried stuff.

Lentils, bulgar, barley, split peas... what do you do with them?

I have three words for you, food adventurers: Electric. Crock. Pot.

Here's the thing about this sort of dried good. You have to cook if for a long time in hot water if you want to make it both edible and delicious. And you know what cooks things for a long time in hot water?

Oh, crock pot, how I love you.
That's right- an electric slow cooker.

Now, I have to confess- I'm in love my slow cooker. Someday, if my husband is in a tragic accident and I'm widowed, I'll probably abandon any ideas of romantic love and simply declare my eternal affection for my Hamilton Beach 3-1.

In the meantime, I'm still just playing the slow cooker field. Someday I'll be picking up a few extra appliances- a mini slow cooker is definitely in the future. But that's not what we're talking about now.

Let's get back to the initial question, What do I do with this random bag of dried grains?

If you feel like experimenting with some of these delicious dry goods, grab your crock pot, and start with a few basic steps.

Black buluga lentils
Step one: mince and saute an onion. Add some spices- depending on what you're choosing as your compliment flavor, you'll want to choose different spices.  For pairing with mushrooms, I recommend thyme or even Worschester sauce in this flavor base. Cook it all together briefly, and then put it into the slow cooker.

Step two: pick a universally complimenting flavor. When you're experimenting, I recommend going for either mushrooms or beans. A can of chick peas or 12 oz of dried shiitakes go with pretty much everything. Don't know what slow cooked barley tastes like? Don't worry- if you like what shiitakes taste like. I guarantee  you won't hate whatever they taste like WITH bulgar. At this point, you could add meat as well. Beef, chicken, chorizo, or even TVP or soy. Again, you know the flavor- let it dominate the dried grains.

Step three: add broth. Six to eight cups will do it. And now add your experimental dried goods. One cup is a fine place to start, but I don't recommend putting in more than two. Expect your dried goods to double in size while cooking.

Step four: slow cook for six to eight hours. 

Step five: add greens, lemon juice, or spicy sauce. Again, go with what you know works. If you chose a black bean compliment, go for a spicy salsa. If you chose a more mellow flavor, you could add fresh spinach or chard. With chick peas, you could add tahini or lemon juice.

Step six: Add salt/pepper to taste.

Congratulations! You've invented a slow cooker soup!

Now feel free to invent another. My personal favorites? Brown lentils with chick peas, mushrooms with barley, pearl onions with black caviar lentils.

Look at that- it's soup!
Get experimenting! And enjoy your delicious soup inventions.

1 comment:

  1. This soup looks amazing! I am going to have to try this method! I always pass up those dried grains but now maybe I need to get them:)