I was recently perusing the grains at the grocery store and came across one that I had never seen before: KAMUT®. It looked like wheat berries, which I love, and it came in pretty packaging, an attribute for which I will eternally be a sucker, so I tossed it in my basket to try at home after a little Internet research. The brand I bought was Bob’s Red Mill Grains of Discovery series.
Ancient grains are supposedly hot this year (who decides these things?), so I have completely bought into whatever marketing scheme placed the attractive bag of wheat on the shelf and subsequently into my cart. . . then into my kitchen, onto my dinner table, and. . . within this blog post. Should I have named this post “Meta Kamut® Salad?”
I can guarantee you I am not being paid by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Grains to write this post, so let’s learn something, shall we? First, KAMUT® is the trademarked name for a certain type of Khorasan wheat (turanicum variety Q-77). The exact origin of Khorasan wheat is unknown, but it is believed to have been originally cultivated in the Fertile Crescent. According to one legend, Khorasan wheat was once near extinction until an American airman mailed some seeds found in Egypt back home to his family in Montana in the late 1940’s to cultivate, thus reintroducing the grain to modern cuisine. It’s a nice story that I don’t think I believe, but it does make for good dinner conversation. If you are blessed with a table full of dinner guests who believe in dining without smart phones, you could really embellish this tale into a great story, without fear of someone fact-checking you halfway through the main course.
Khorasan wheat grains are roughly twice the size of the common wheat kernel which makes them very attractive in salads. They have a nutty flavor with a pleasant chew when cooked properly. They can also be milled into flour for use in baked goods. One clear advantage of Khorasan wheat over common modern wheat is that it has a much higher protein content; at seven grams per serving, it has up to 40% more protein than common wheat. Khorasan wheat also contains a higher percentage of selenium, zinc, magnesium, and amino acids. Full nutritional information is available on the Bob’s Red Mill website.
Would all of these spices marry up with this ancient grain, feta cheese, kale, carrots, and pomegranate arils anywhere in the world besides my kitchen? Who knows, but the combo tastes pretty awesome. This salad is tasty served warm or cold. Plus the salad is a nutritional powerhouse that would make for great make-ahead lunches that would leave you satisfied all afternoon.
I enjoyed the flavor and texture of the Khorasan wheat so I think I will use it again. However, this ingredient does require a little planning, as the wheat berries have to soak in water overnight. Not a quick go-to pantry ingredient, but one that is worth the wait if you plan meals better than I do most nights.
Moroccan Khorasan Wheat Salad (serves 4)
- 1 cup KAMUT® brand Khorasan wheat berries
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- 4 threads saffron
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided (2 + 1)
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 large carrots, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 bunch of kale, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 4 ounces crumbled feta
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cover wheat berries in water and soak overnight, or at least six hours.
- In a medium pot over medium heat, bring vegetable stock to a boil. Add saffron and wheat berries and simmer, covered, for 50-60 minutes or until tender.
- In a large pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and carrots and saute until onion is translucent. Add spices (ginger through cayenne) and saute for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add garlic and kale and saute until wilted. Add lemon juice and turn heat to low.
- Add carrot-onion mixture and wheat berries to large pot with kale and cook until warmed throughout.
- To serve cold: remove from heat to refrigerator, chill this mixture for at least one hour, then add feta, pomegranate, and salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve warm: remove from heat, add feta, pomegranate, and salt and pepper to taste, then serve immediately.