We’d been experimenting with whole grains over the past few months. Then, after reading Mark Bittman’s recent opinion piece in the New York Times on Cara Ebbeling, PhD and David Ludwig, MD’s study comparing low-glycemic, low-fat and low-carb diets, published in June in the Journal of the American Medical Association, we decided to keep up the good work in the whole grain department.
Bulgur, farro, wheat berries, barley – I’ve come up with a few, and we’ve tried a few really fantastic dishes. But, not all have been so successful. A while back, I attempted to make a breakfast cereal out of wheat berries. I simmered the wheat berries in water and added some milk and a little brown sugar, just the way you’d make oatmeal. I opened up my laptop to check email over my super-healthy, new, high-fiber breakfast. About 20 minutes later, still chewing, I was chatting with my friend, a registered dietician:
YC: i just made the grossest breakfast of boiled wheat berries. i read that they make a good sub for oatmeal, but they’re like rubber on my teeth
Registered Dietician Pal: erg
that does not sound tasty
but wheat berries – very high nutrient profile! :)
i just wonder if they are even being absorbed, they were so rubbery
Registered Dietician Pal: they may not be, but then they’re pulling all kinds of icky things out with them :)
like brooms for your intestines and arteries :)
you’ve just made me want to finish the bowl
Conversely, the following recipe for BLT Farro Salad makes an excellent whole grain breakfast, with bacon to boot. According to Bittman’s article, the low-glycemic diet includes, “40 percent carbs — minimally processed grains, fruit, vegetables and legumes — 40 percent fat and 20 percent protein.” So that means equal amounts of carbs (in the form of unprocessed fiber) and fat. Surely, bacon counts as fat and a little protein, right?
Once cooked, farro takes on a creamy texture, which mimics the mayo many folks like to put on their BLT sandwiches, but in a non-greasy way. Farro also has a nice toothsome texture without being chewy like wheat berries.
Tomatoes are at their peak this time of year, and as you know from your standard bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, tomatoes also make a nice, sweet contrast to salty, smokey bacon. Romaine lettuce takes it’s cue from tabbouleh recipes, and holds up well to being mixed into the salad. It also holds its color nicely. Cucumber adds a light, hydrating crunch to the salad, keeping the salad from becoming too dense.
BLT Farro Salad makes an excellent breakfast, lunch or a side dish for dinner.
P.S.: I totally see the irony here after my last three posts were for cake (that was for a party), booze (that was for a get together, too) and a cheese-stuffed burger (there’s nothing wrong with a little fat and protein, according to the low-glycemic thing), respectively, but life is all about balance, right?
Frugal tip: After your bacon is cooked and removed from the pan, pour the rendered fat into a jar and keep it in the fridge for the next time you need cooking oil for sauteing. Bacon fat adds a nice smokey flavor to sauteed vegetables, and even pancakes. It’s an excellent sub for butter in many recipes (not on toast), which in turn, saves you from buy more butter.
BLT Farro Salad – serves 6
1 C farro
3 cups water
4 – 5 slices of bacon (1/4 lb)
1 small head of romaine lettuce (about 1/4 lb)
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes (1/2 lb)
1 medium sized cucumber (1/4 lb)
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Pour the farro into a 2 quart saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 45 minutes with the lid ajar (to avoid a Marcia Brady volcano experiment scene). Transfer to a large, heat-resistant bowl, and allow to cool completely for 15 to 20 minutes in the fridge.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on high, add the bacon. Turn the heat to low, and cook the bacon gradually for 15 – 20, turning occasionally, until tender-crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Once cooled, cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces.
Rinse and loosely chop the lettuce into 1/2 inch strips. Rinse and chop the tomato into 1/2 inch pieces. Peel and chop the cucumber into 1/2 inch pieces.
Remove the farro from the refrigerator. Break up any lumps using a spoon. Drizzle olive oil over the top and toss to coat. Add the chopped lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and bacon. Mix to combine evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy without feeling too guilty over the bacon. You need it. It’s good!