Grain Mains, The Gourmet Ingredient Hiding In Plain Sight

 

Syrian Sliha from Grain Mains

 

If you have ever visited this blog before, you probably know that I am really into whole grains. So into them, that I wrote a book about it, The New Whole Grains Cookbook. My latest book, Sweet and Easy Vegan, also celebrates whole grains, in all their chewy, tasty glory.

So when I heard that the distinguished duo of Mark Scarborough and Bruce Weinstein was coming out with a new take on whole grains, I knew that it was going to be a good one. You see, if you read food magazines or browse the cookbook shelf of your local bookstore, you will become very familiar with the names Scarborough and Weinstein. 20 plus books, countless articles, and tons of blog posts, interviews and appearances put these guys right out front in the food writing world.

They deserve all the attention that they get. Their recipes are healthier than most, wide-ranging, and always well-tested and accurate. They do veg-friendly in among the conventional fare, which I like. We need to see vegan and vegetarian foods as just part of the whole picture, not some separate discipline, and that is what is going on with the dynamic duo here. One of the key message in this book is that whole grains are gourmet, not just healthy.

I totally agree with that.

Whole Grain Mains takes you along on a journey across continents and selects some hearty, delicious food to make with whole grains. It’s not a vegetarian book by any means, but helpfully notes the vegetarian and vegan recipes with a handy symbol at the top. There are plenty of recipes that are plant based or can be made plant based with a few tweaks. There is also good info on cooking whole grains, and why.

Weinstein and Scarborough are endlessly creative, coming up with fun ideas, like Italian Style Black Quinoa and Spinach Summer Rolls, in which quinoa is seasoned Italian style ( a little parm that can be left out for vegans) and rolled up in Rice paper wrappers. There are ideas for morning, for cold food, for hot food. The textures and flavors of whole grains are paired with other exciting textures and flavors, which complement them well. I love seeing black quinoa and purple barley in recipes, so people will seek them out. There are several burgers, as well, vegan, vegetarian, and not so, all full of flavorful touches.

I made this recipe for Syrian Sliha, the one pictured in the photo above (from the book.) I love that they call for soft wheat, which has a very different texture to the bite than hard wheat. You may have to search for it and order it online. This dish is rich, a vegan dream breakfast loaded with nuts and seeds, and explosive bursts of pomegranate. It’s the answer to anyone who thinks you only eat salads, with plenty of heft, protein, and healthy fats.

Oh, and as always, The dish was unique and delicious. Thanks, guys.

Click Through to Bruce and Mark’s Site with More Recipes

 

SYRIAN SLIHA

 

1 cup wheat berries, preferably soft white wheat berries

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios

1 cup pine nuts

1 cup chopped walnuts (in about 1/2-inch bits to match the pistachios)

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

1. Soak the wheat berries in a big bowl of cool water for at least 8 hours and up to 16 hours.

 

2. Drain the wheat berries in a fine-mesh sieve or a small-holed colander set in the sink. Dump the grains into a medium saucepan with the fennel seeds and fill the saucepan two-thirds of the way with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the grains are tender, about 50 minutes. Drain again in that sieve or colander; if you’re using a standard colander with larger holes, line it with cheesecloth or paper towels so you don’t lose the fennel seeds.

 

3. As the wheat berries cook, scatter the pistachios, pine nuts, and walnuts in a large dry skillet and set it over medium-low heat. Toast, stirring once in a while, until the nuts are lightly browned, maybe 5 or 6 minutes. Spread them out on a large cutting board and cool for a few minutes; then chop them into small pieces, about the size of the wheat berries themselves.

 

4. Scrape the wheat berries and fennel seeds into a big bowl. Mix in everything else: the chopped nuts, sugar, pomegranate seeds, coconut, cinnamon, and salt. Cool to room temperature before serving, or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for breakfasts (or snacks) in the week to come.

 

 

 

SERVES 12

 

Active time: 15 minutes

 

Total time: 1 hour, plus soaking the wheat berries for at least 8 hours

 

Make ahead: Store, covered, in the fridge for up to 1 week.

 

 

 

CHEF IT UP!

One Response
  • Oct 31, 2012

    Thanks, Robin! I love me some Sliha! I often make it when we have weekend guests, an easy breakfast right from the fridge.

    Mark Scarbrough Oct 31, 2012
    Reply

Leave a Reply