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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CALIFORNIA WHEAT CASSOROLE

Mom Ames made a delicious whole wheat casserole she called 'California Wheat Casserole'. (I didn't know until sometime later, when I asked why it was called 'California' wheat casserole, that the frozen vegetables are called by that name. They are a mixture of carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. ) She told me you can put anything that 'seems' good in too.


A few of you have asked for her recipe. 
I will do my best.
Please read all the way through first. 
Remember she seldom used an actual recipe.
The bulgar was always done at least the day before.
It may be kept in the frig for a day or two or frozen.

Wheat Bulgar   prepared in advance
.
   Stove top method: I do NOT use this method.
   It seems to never completely soften and 'pop'.
   [Maybe because my wheat is often ancient.]

Wash 1 cup dry wheat, add 6-8 cups water, boil 2 minutes. Decrease heat to simmer and cook 1 hour or until the wheat has softened but is not mushy, and 'pops' (slightly splits). Drain well. Chill for use in salads, casseroles  meat loaf etc.  

   Oven method: I DO use this method.
   Also the lazy easy 'no attention needed' method.

Cover 1 cup dry whole wheat with cold water and soak a minimum of 8 hours (usually overnight or all day) - rinsing as needed to prevent souring - more often in warm weather but every 3 or 4 hours (once before bed by the late birds and once upon arising by the early birds usually does nicely). I was told if it appears to sprout, that this will actually increase vitamin content. 

Rinse thoroughly.

[AND why limit yourself to this process for only 1 cup? I usually used my roaster and do prep like this about once a month. I would make enough to measure and package into freezer bags (about 1 cup each) and place in the freezer ready for future use. ]

Place in oven proof dish, cover with at least 1/2 inch of water, and bake overnight at 200 degrees F or until wheat is softened but not mushy, and 'pops' (slightly splits). Drain well. Chill for use in salads, casseroles  meat loaf etc. [Of freeze in small packages if making larger amounts.] Adjust cooking times and temperatures to suit your time constraints - more heat = shorter cooking time with more water. DO NOT let it dry out or it will not cook and soften properly. 

CALIFORNIA WHEAT CASSOROLE

Next time we make it we will take some pictures.
.
Ingredients:  ground meat (abt 1 pound - keep fat or use oil) 
                   onions chopped (1 medium)
                   celery chopped (several stalks)
                   wheat bulgar (about 2 times the meat)
                   1 can cream soup* 
                   California frozen vegetables (abt 1 lb - small pkg)
                   cheese - grated (abt 3/4 cup - usually mozzarella)

* I usually use cream of celery when I use celery, cream of chicken when I use chicken, and cream of mushroom when I add mushrooms.

Brown ground meat and remove meat to large casserole dish. Add seasoning to meat mixture if you desire (ie garlic salt etc). [Sometimes I use chopped leftover meat instead because I don't have to cook it and  turkey, ham or roast beef - or canned is fast and easy. Just match up flavors of things you like.] 

Saute onion and celery (may also add garlic, mushrooms or green peppers - any pleasing combination of flavors) 

Add 1 can of cream soup with 1 can of water and heat just until blended. 

Add bulgar (1 - 2 cups depending on taste preferences and tolerance) and  frozen vegetables to the meat and stir just enough to distribute.

Pour soup and sauteed vegetable mixture over meat / vegetable mixture and stir just enough to cover of coat mix. Bake until hot and bubbly. 

Top with shredded cheese the last few minutes of baking or just before serving. 

ENJOY!

Caution:  go easy on the wheat until you become accustomed to the roughage. It tastes so good that it can be a problem if the body is not accustomed to it.