Cracked wheat, also known as bulgur, is a whole grain that is a great source of nutrition. In fact, it is packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals that can provide numerous health benefits. The good news is that it is also incredibly versatile and easy to cook. In this article, we will discuss how to cook cracked wheat and provide some tips and tricks to help you make the most of this nutritious grain.
What is Cracked Wheat?
Cracked wheat is a type of whole grain that is made by crushing or grinding whole wheat berries. It is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Indian cuisines, and has gained popularity in recent years due to its nutritional benefits. It comes in different sizes, ranging from fine to coarse, and can be used in a variety of dishes.
The Nutritional Benefits of Cracked Wheat
Cracked wheat is packed with nutrients that can help support overall health. Here are some of the main nutritional benefits of cracked wheat:
- High in fiber: Cracked wheat is a good source of dietary fiber, which can help regulate digestion, support cardiovascular health, and promote feelings of fullness.
- Rich in protein: Cracked wheat is also a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues, maintaining muscle mass, and supporting healthy immune function.
- Low in fat: Cracked wheat is naturally low in fat, making it a good choice for those looking to maintain a healthy weight or reduce their intake of saturated and trans fats.
- Loaded with vitamins and minerals: Cracked wheat is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and B vitamins, which support overall health and wellbeing.
How to Cook Cracked Wheat
Now that we know what cracked wheat is and why it’s so good for you, let’s dive into how to cook it. Here are some simple steps to get you started:
Step 1: Choose Your Cracked Wheat
First things first, you’ll need to choose the type of cracked wheat you want to cook. Fine cracked wheat is ideal for dishes like tabbouleh or pilaf, while coarse cracked wheat is better suited for dishes like soups, stews, or salads. Make sure to read the package instructions to determine the correct cooking time and water ratio for your specific type of cracked wheat.
Step 2: Rinse the Cracked Wheat
Rinsing your cracked wheat is an important step that removes any dirt, debris, or bitter flavors. To do this, simply place your desired amount of cracked wheat in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it under cold running water, stirring occasionally, until the water runs clear.
Step 3: Soak the Cracked Wheat (Optional)
Soaking your cracked wheat before cooking can help reduce the cooking time and make it easier to digest. Simply place your rinsed cracked wheat in a bowl and cover it with water. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes, or up to several hours, depending on the desired texture and cooking time.
Step 4: Cook the Cracked Wheat
Once your cracked wheat is rinsed and optionally soaked, you’re ready to cook it. Here’s how:
- Place the desired amount of cracked wheat in a saucepan and add water or broth (according to the package instructions) in a 2:1 ratio (two cups of liquid for every cup of cracked wheat).
- Add a pinch of salt, if desired, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer the cracked wheat until tender and all the liquid is absorbed, usually about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes before fluffing it with a fork. Your cracked wheat is now ready to serve!
How to Use Cracked Wheat
Now that you know how to cook cracked wheat, let’s talk about how to use it. Here are some ideas:
Try adding cooked, cooled cracked wheat to your favorite salad recipes for an extra boost of nutrition and texture. It pairs well with fresh vegetables, herbs, and a simple vinaigrette dressing.
Soups and Stews
Cracked wheat is a great addition to hearty soups and stews, adding both flavor and texture to the dish. Try incorporating it into your favorite chili or vegetable soup recipe for a tasty, nutritious meal.
Pilafs and Tabouleh
Cracked wheat is a main ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes like tabouleh and pilaf. Try making your own at home by mixing cooked cracked wheat with chopped vegetables, herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil.
For a tasty vegetarian option, try making a cracked wheat and vegetable burger patty. Simply mix cooked cracked wheat with chopped vegetables, eggs, breadcrumbs, and spices, and fry in a pan until golden and crispy.
Tips and Tricks for Cooking Cracked Wheat
Here are some additional tips and tricks to help you make the most of your cracked wheat:
Toast the Cracked Wheat First
For added flavor and texture, try toasting your cracked wheat before cooking. Simply place it in a dry skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden and fragrant. Then, proceed with your desired cooking method.
Use Broth Instead of Water
For an extra boost of flavor, try cooking your cracked wheat in vegetable or chicken broth instead of water. This will add depth and complexity to the grain, making it even more delicious.
Experiment with Flavors
Cracked wheat is a versatile ingredient that can be flavored in a variety of ways. Try adding spices, herbs, or citrus to your cooking liquid for a unique twist on traditional recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions and answers related to cooking cracked wheat:
What is the difference between cracked wheat and bulgur?
Cracked wheat and bulgur are both made from whole wheat berries, but the process of preparing them is slightly different. Cracked wheat is made by crushing or grinding the wheat berries, while bulgur is partially cooked, dried, and then cracked. Bulgur is finer and quicker to cook than cracked wheat.
How do I know when my cracked wheat is cooked?
Your cracked wheat is cooked when it is tender and all the water or broth is absorbed. You should be able to easily fluff it with a fork and it should have a slightly chewy texture.
Can I store leftover cooked cracked wheat?
Yes, leftover cooked cracked wheat can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Lampe, J. W., & Slavin, J. L. (2007). Whole Grains and Health. Nutrition today, 42(6), 263–273. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.NT.0000305768.41074.52
- Rodríguez Suárez, J., Díaz Romero, C., Guerra Hernández, E., Hardisson de la Torre, A., Rodríguez Rodríguez, E., & Fernández Rodríguez, A. (2019). Nutritional Composition and Antioxidant Capacity of Different Types of Bulgur and Cracked Wheat in Spain. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(9), 1612. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24091612
- Wheat Foods Council. (n.d.). What is Bulgur? https://wheatfoods.org/recipes/what-is-bulgur/