Category Archives: grains

Grain Salad, Two Ways

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking on Sundays and eating the food throughout the week.  This week I tried a really good salad at the local Coop deli and decided to make some myself, especially since it used feta, and I was still trying to use up that same old block.  I decided I would get sick of the salad though if I had 4 servings of the same thing though, so I divided it in half and dressed up one half sweet with dried cherries and toasted almonds, and the other more savory with basil and kalamata olives.  The only thing about this that is at all difficult is that you have to remember to soak the spelt berries overnight (or for 8 hours or so) before beginning to cook.  Don’t be intimidated by them: they’re a lot like barley, with a chewy texture and nutty flavor.

how to cook the spelt berries

1. soak 1 cup spelt berries overnight in a pot of water
2. drain and rinse
3. add 5 cups of water to the spelt berries and bring to a boil
4. reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 45 minutes.  spelt berries should still be firm but tender.
5. drain and rinse, and return to the pot
6. stir in 2 tbsp olive oil to keep the grains from sticking
7. divide grains into two bowls.

basil, olive and feta salad

1. Chop 1/4 c. feta and 1/4 c. kalamata olives and add to grains.
2. Grab a handful of basil and remove the stems.  To chiffonade the basil (the fancy word for cutting it into strips), lay the leaves one on top of another.
3. Next, roll the stack of leaves into a tube.
4. Now slice the tube into discs.
5. Add the basil and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar to the grain mixture, and stir.

cherry, almond and feta salad
1. Add 1/4 c. chopped toasted almonds, 1/4 c. chopped dried cherries, and 1/4 c. chopped feta cheese.
2. Add 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar and stir

Wheat Berries on Foodista


Chard-Wrapped Risotto Pockets

how could this be bad?

Since I started food blogging, I’ve had a lot of friends offer to be my guinea pigs. And by offer, I mean suggest hopefully that perhaps I need taste testers. I invited a few friends over for dinner on Friday night and decided to make a recipe that I printed out about two years ago and always wanted to try, but never found the time. This NY Times recipe is based on a dish from La Zucca Magica (“the magic pumpkin”), an Italian vegetarian restaurant on the French Riviera. Also on the menu were chicken peperonata (recipe to come soon) and ratatouille with balsamic vinagrette. For the ratatouille, I left off the chickpeas since it was just a side dish, and actually used eggplant. And for dessert, the talented R. made black sticky rice with toasted coconut and fresh mango.

The recipe looks a little complicated at first, but now that I sucked it up and made the risotto, poached the chard, wrapped the risotto and baked the whole thing, I must concede that it was well worth it. This is a great dish for a party – it looks fancy and makes neat little individual servings.

1 c. arborio rice
5 c. chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
6 ciliegine (the fresh mozzarella balls about the size of grape tomatoes), or buy a bigger piece and cut it into small chunks.
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
large pinch saffron
salt and pepper
6 chard leaves, rinsed, with hard middle stems removed

1. mix one cup of stock and the rice in a pot, and bring to a simmer. heat 2 more cups of stock, either on the stove or in the microwave.
2. mix the lemon juice and saffron in a small bowl.
3 when the liquid in the pot is just about all absorbed, add a little more and stir.

Starting to get risotto-y...

4. as the liquid is absorbed, keep adding hot stock until the rice is just tender. it took me about 3 cups of stock to get there. remove from heat.

now we're talking

5. add the butter, lemon juice and saffron, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste to the risotto. try to resist the urge to eat the risotto directly out of the pot. let cool slightly, until you can bear to handle the mixture. warning: do not refrigerate to make this go faster.
6. while you’re waiting for the risotto to cool, bring the remaining stock to a boil in another pot. poach the chard leaves for about 30 seconds each. you may have to do them individually – i found that was the easiest way to do it. drain the poached leaves in a colander. reserve the poaching liquid.
7. preheat the oven to 350.
8. wet your hands and form the risotto into six balls about 2-3 inches in diameter. dig a hole in each one and push in a ciliegine, and mold the risotto around it. wrap each ball in a chard leaf. resist the urge to laugh at the number of times the word “ball” is used in this step.
9. place the risotto balls in a close fitting baking dish and pour the leftover poaching liquid over them to reach about 1/2 inch up the sides.
10. bake 20 minutes at 350. serve immediately. try not to swoon.

oh baby.