Greek Grain Salad Recipe

Posted in on the 15th September, 2012

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fine bulgur or barley (Grade 1)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup minced parsley
  • 3 or 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Dash allspice

Barley, although it seems to be well known as an ancient grain, is relatively unknown to many Americans. In the New Testament, the bread used to feed the multitudes in the story of the loaves and fishes was barley bread. The Romans, Egyptians and Greeks grew the grain as did early Asian cultures. Traditionally most American cooks have thought of barley only as a thickener for soup. Until recently it was used almost exclusively as an ingredient in vegetable, beef and barley soup. But this is changing.

Barley needs to cook about 45 minutes before it becomes tender. It can be made ahead and either frozen or kept refrigerated for a few days before serving. It is easy to reheat in a microwave, a covered skillet or a vegetable steamer set over boiling water. For the following Greek Grain salad recipe it’s efficient to let the barley cook while preparing the other ingredients. When the barley is cooked, drain it, rinse with cold water to cool it off and make the salad.

The prose tends to get a trifle overheated when cooks from different cultures discuss the various merits of the staples of their countries.

Take the matter of grains, for example. It would not be considered very hospitable to serve any grain other than fluffy rice, perfectly cooked, to members of the Asian community. It is the staff of life to them. In fact, in times past, during economic downturns, rice was considered such a precious commodity that it sometimes served as wages for services performed.

Although bulgur, another vital staple, has been relished for centuries in the Middle East, it has been introduced only fairly recently to the American palate by way of that chopped parsley and Greek Grain Salad.

Bulgur has been used for thousands of years by Armenians, Persians, Syrians, Jordanians, Greeks and Turks, people who share a common geographical and culinary bond.

What makes bulgur so appealing is its delightfully chewy texture and nutlike flavor, its quick-cooking quality, high nutritional content and great versatility. It’s the type of grain that makes a delicious alternative to the popular choices, such as rice and barley.

Greek Grain Salad recipe Directions:

Place bulgur in a large bowl and pour boiling water over it. Set aside for 30 minutes or until water is absorbed and bulgur is puffed up. Stir in parsley, tomatoes, scallions and mint.

In a separate bowl, beat together oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cayenne and allspice. Pour over bulgur mixture, mixing well. Transfer mixture to a salad bowl and set aside for 1 hour.

Original Greek Grain Salad recipe yield: 4 servings

Some tips for making superior Greek Grain Salad:

The choice of which grade of fineness to buy depends on use of grain. The finest grind (Grade 1) is preferred for Greek Grain salad recipe because the grains can be “cooked” by pouring hot water over them. The kernels absorb the liquid in 20 to 30 minutes, puff up and expand. In the Greek Grain salad recipe, there is no need to drain the kernels before adding the vegetables and dressing because the grains absorb all of the water.

Grade 2 (medium) is used for well-seasoned kuftehs and a bulgur-meat mixture used to stuff vegetables and grape leaves, while Grade 3 (coarse) makes delicious, firm-textured and chewy pilaf.

Bulgur is available boxed in most large supermarkets, or sold more cheaply in bulk in health food stores and Middle Eastern, Greek or Armenian food stores. It can be stored indefinitely in a cool area away from heat, or refrigerated or placed in the freezer.

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