Cracked wheat is made from whole raw wheat kernels which are crushed or cut into smaller pieces. A similar product, bulgur wheat, is also made by cracking wheat kernels. Bulgur, however, is made from wheat kernels, which are steamed and toasted before cracking, so that they develop a rich, nutty flavor. Bulgur requires minimal cooking since it is already partially cooked.
Cracked wheat, on the other hand, uses whole raw wheat berries and is not cooked prior to packaging. It offers a great deal of nutrition and fiber since it includes the fiber and nutrient rich outer germ of the wheat. For this reason, those of us that pay attention to heart health often prefer it.
For the whole grain cracked wheat I use Bob’s Red Mill cracked wheat hot cereal. It is reasonably priced and readily available.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (fine dice)
4 tablespoons vermicelli (crushed)
1 cup whole grain cracked wheat
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 cup tomatoes (diced)
salt and pepper (to taste)
Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add onion and sauté until the onions are translucent. Reduce heat to low and add vermicelli. Stir and simmer for two minutes or until the vermicelli looks golden (do not burn).
Add cracked wheat to the saucepan and sauté for another minute or so. Add the vegetable broth and mix in tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and stir once more. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture is moist but not watery. If it is too dry add more vegetable broth.
Turn off heat. Cover with kitchen towel, place the lid tightly on top and let it stand for 10 minutes before serving. If this sounds weird, give it a try anyway. It helps to take away excess moisture allowing the pilaf to be more “fluffy”.