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Gluten-Free Kisir with Sorghum

There are a couple of very awesome things about this blog post. First, it is pomegranate season and I can get my hands on the fruit at nearly every grocery store and they aren’t going to break the bank. Heck, even Walgreens has fresh pomegranate arils next to the Naked juices and RedBull.

Second, I finally found an excuse to make whole-grain sorghum. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some quinoa on the regular, and rice is a staple in these parts, but sometimes you really need to try something new.

gluten-free kisir with sorghum from frannycakes

When I went gluten-free 8 years ago, it was a nerve-wracking, difficult process. There were so many foods with crazy names – back then quinoa wasn’t a culinary buzzword and no one had any idea how to pronounce it. And if you didn’t have a Whole Foods or an ethnic grocery store nearby, you were not going to find it.

But those foods are now routine and ordinary in my diet. I eat buckwheat soba noodles and black bean spaghetti. I get annoyed when Whole Foods tells me they can’t find a local grower of kohlrabi.

Gah. Something happened to me. I became adventurous when it came to safe foods just so that things stay interesting. Which brings me to sorghum. I have used “sweet” sorghum in my gluten-free baking for a few years now. In flour form it isn’t gritty like rice flour or strongly flavored like teff, amaranth or quinoa flours. So, when I stumbled across this bag of whole grain sorghum when I was grocery shopping, I just had to buy it.

I am told the chewy texture is similar to wheat berries or faro, so it is great for salads. It has a mild nutty flavor but none of the bitterness of quinoa. It works well as a substitute for bulgur/cracked wheat in this recipe, and I suspect it would be equally as delicious in other similar dishes.

gluten-free kisir with sorghum from frannycakes

Combine the nutty sorghum with fresh herbs and pomegranates and you have a delightful salad that is delicious both warm and cold. A perfect dish for in-season pomegranates (yay!) and the wild roller coaster that is a Chicago fall…

Gluten-Free Kisir
Author: Mary Fran Wiley
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins
Total time: 1 hour 20 mins
Serves: 6
Kisir is a Turkish dish typically made from bulgur or cracked wheat, parsley and pomegranate molasses. I made this salad gluten-free by using pearled whole-grain sorghum in place of the bulgur. Sorghum has a texture similar to wheat berries which makes it an excellent choice for this salad. The mild, slightly earthy flavor is the closest of the gluten-free grains in flavor to wheat. The salad can be eaten warm or cold and makes for an excellent alternative to a sandwich for lunch. The time on this recipe looks like a lot, but if you put the grain on to cook and leave the prepping of the rest of ingredients until just before the sorghum is done cooking, you really only have about 15 minutes of active time total. This recipe is adapted from the October 2013 issue of Jamie magazine.
Ingredients
  • 500 grams (3 cups) dry, pearled sorghum*
  • 9 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 small, sweet pepper or 1/2 of a large sweet pepper, pureed or finely minced**
  • 1/2 red jalapeño pureed or finely minced**
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds removed
  • 2 tomatoes roughly chopped (about 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1 cucumber chopped in 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 bunch green onions finely sliced
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves picked and chopped
  • 1 small handful flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat combine the water and the sorghum. Generously salt the water (2 large pinches of sea salt is perfect) and bring the pot to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cover the pot leaving the lid slightly askew. Cook the grains for 55-60 minutes.
  2. About 15 minutes before your sorghum is cooked, chop your vegetables and herbs.
  3. When your sorghum is cooked and the water is mostly absorbed- it will be chewier than quinoa or rice – drain any excess water (if there is more than a couple of tablespoons).
  4. Add the pomegranate molasses, sweet pepper, jalapeño, tahini, cumin, black pepper and garlic to the cooked sorghum. Stir for about 10 minutes, making sure that everything is combined well and that the grain is absorbing the flavors.
  5. Now, add about 3/4 of each of the following: pomegranate seeds, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, mint and parsley. Stir until you have an even distribution.
  6. Use the remaining herbs and vegetables as a garnish when you transfer the salad to a serving dish.
Notes
* Bob’s Red Mill has recently started selling [url href=”http://www.bobsredmill.com/Gluten-Free-Sorghum-Grain.html”]whole grain sorghum[/url] as part of their Grains of Discovery line. I found it at my local whole foods, but you can also get it from a number of online stores such as Amazon and Vitacost.[br][br]** I just finely minced the peppers. It was easier than pureeing them and the dish works just fine that way.
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5 comments

  1. I’ve got two bags of whole grain sorghum sitting in my pantry and have been rather nervous about trying it. I’m not a quinoa fan, millet is meh, and amaranth is not something I want to eat every day. From your description – it sounds like sorghum might be a new whole grain favorite of mine!

    • maryfran says:

      Try it! I think I like it better than quinoa, but I might just be tired of quinoa and rice being my grains of choice for the last 8 years…

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