Sohla Tries a (Vegan?!) Gladiator Grain Bowl | Ancient Recipes With Sohla


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To welcome us into 2022, Sohla recreates a staple of the ancient gladiator diet, a chickpea and barley mash topped with fresh goats cheese. Learn more – and discover why gladiators actually had dad bods, in this episode of Ancient Recipes.


Ptisan Recipe
– ⅓ cup dried chickpeas
– ⅓ cup dried lentils
– ⅓ cup dried peas
– 1 cup unhulled barley
– ½ cup olive oil
– ½ bunch swiss chard, stemmed and finely chopped
– 1 medium leek, finely chopped
– ¾ cup finely chopped cilantro
– ¾ cup finely chopped dill
– 1 medium beet, peeled and finely chopped
– ½ cup finely chopped mallows
– 8 ounces cabbage sprouts
– 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
– 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
– ½ cup lightly packed lovage
– Nuoc Mam to taste

1. Rinse and soak the chickpeas, lentils, and peas overnight. Drain.
2. Rinse the barley. In a molcajete, crush the barley until it’s broken down to a coarse meal.
3. In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the drained chickpeas, lentils, and peas, and the crushed barley. Simmer until totally tender and the texture of oatmeal.
4. Meanwhile, boil the cabbage sprouts.
5. Stir the olive oil into the barley porridge. Add the greens, leeks, cilantro, dill, beets, and mallows and cook until wilted.
6. In a mortar & pestle, grind together the oregano, fennel seeds, lovage, and half the blanched sprouts. Add nuoc mam to taste.
7. Chop up the remaining sprouts and set aside.
8. Stir the with sprout puree into the porridge.
9. Portion into bowls and garnish with the remaining chopped sprouts.

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Ancient Recipes with Sohla takes the food you know and love and traces it back to its origins. In each episode, Sohla El-Waylly details the surprising history of some of our favorite dishes as she attempts to recreate the original version using historical cooking techniques and ingredients. Along the way, Sohla highlights the differences between the ancient recipe and how we would prepare the modern version today.


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  1. Things like this are a little "agenda" based. Gladiators weren't exactly UFC fighters. Most were slaves and ate whatever the cheapest food was that their owners gave them, which was mostly barley and legumes. There's also plenty of evidence that shows gladiators consumed fish and animal products due to the levels of nitrogen and sulfur found in their bones.

  2. I am so sick of the myth that gladiators were fat. They weren’t!
    The archeologists discovered that gladiators ate a mostly vegan, high starch very low fat diet. Instead of correcting his illogical biased opinion that carbs are “fattening”, Instead, he assumes the gladiators were fat despite the fact that there is evidence everywhere that gladiators were in fact fit, trim, and very athletic in build. Look at old sculptures and paintings, from that century of gladiators and none of them shows fat gladiators. Fat kings yes (who ate high fat diets of meat and cheese), but not peasants or gladiators who ate diets of mostly bread and grains.
    If carbs are fattening then there would be a lot of obese Asians who eat diets of mostly white rice. Or the original Okinawa (before they got McDonald’s) diet of mostly sweet potatoes. Or how about the Irish who used to eat diets of mostly white potatoes? They obviously were horribly obese, right? 🤨The Italians who eat all that pasta? I personally switched to a high starch low fat diet and lost 50lbs. So…things that make you go hmmmmmmm 🧐
    Potatoes, barley, beans and rice will make you thin, trim and fit. Like a gladiator. Meat, cheese and butter will make you fat, like a king. Period.