Moroccan Kamut Salad

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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)

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Ingredients:

  • 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

Preparation:

  1. Cover wheat berries in water and soak overnight, or at least six hours.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Add carrot-onion mixture and wheat berries to large pot with kale and cook until warmed throughout.
  6. 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.
  7. To serve warm: remove from heat, add feta, pomegranate, and salt and pepper to taste, then serve immediately.

Spa Salad

This weekend I got together with some ladies for a DIY-at-home spa night and it was so relaxing and fun! I was asked to bring an appetizer and I knew I wanted to do something fresh and light to fit the theme. The salad I created tasted citrusy and peppery, like the feeling you have after an invigorating facial, and it was filled with superfoods that were good for our bodies. And it was green like our mud masks!

credit: Susan and Carissa Schmidt

If you’re like me and have a freezer full of pomegranate seeds, or if you just want a light and zesty accompaniment to your meal, try this super easy salad!

Spa Salad

Credit: Carissa Schmidt

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of salad greens (I used Victory Farms salad mix)
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Fill a large bowl with salad greens.
  2. Slice the avocados and spritz with the juice of 1/2 of a lime to preserve color.
  3. Squeeze the rest of the lime juice into the salad bowl and add olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the avocado slices and pomegranate seeds to the bowl.
  5. Toss and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

I beg your pardon, what did you say? Did you say you needed an extra special spa cocktail to wash down your salad? Well I’m glad you asked because I happen to have something that pairs well with the salad and would be perfect for the occasion. Bonus Recipe!

Vegology Citrus Splash

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz light rum
  • 4 oz 100% grapefruit juice
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp agave nectar (more or less to taste)

Preparation:

To serve one, combine all ingredients and pour into a tall glass over crushed ice. To serve a small crowd, multiply all quantities by four or six and combine in a glass pitcher.

Cheers!

POM Party: How to Open a Pomegranate

I know there are a lot of people out there who want to know how to open a pomegranate. Unfortunately, I could not fit them all in my one-bedroom apartment. So for those of you who did not make it to the POM Wonderful dinner party, here is a video just for you.

DISCLAIMERS/EXCUSES: I was getting over a cold (and a night of drinking mojitos and shouting over load salsa music) so my voice is a little froggy. I was super nervous because this is my first video for veg:ology.

However, for my first video, I think this is pretty OK. It could have gone worse. Please be kind. I’m sorta proud that I was able to pull off a video for this.

I hope you learn something!

POM Party: Let Them Eat Cake

This post is part of a series of recaps of my POM Wonderful Dinner Party. Catching up? See all the posts here: POM Party.

Aaahhh, dessert.

After our bowls of paella (and some guests’ second or third bowls of paella), we adjourned to the living room for a little demonstration on how to open a pomegranate. To make things a little more interesting, I had everyone guess how many seeds that were in the pomegranate that I was about to open.

We counted the seeds in piles of 100 each…

The final count was over 900 seeds! Everyone guessed way too low, but the guesser with the closest estimate won a cutting board, compliments of POM Wonderful.

What a goofy picture. I think the pomegranate mojitos were starting to take effect for all of us.

When the demo was over, I was able to announce to my guests that everyone was a winner. POM Wonderful supplied me with a goodie bag for each dinner guest. It was full of POM swag and it was a nice surprise for my guests who came for the free meal and left with. . . wristbands!

My friends dug through their swag bags while I prepared a traditional Cuban dessert with a twist: Tres Leches Cake with Pomegranate Whipped Cream and Arils.

I am not sure if I can post the recipe here, but you can follow this link for the recipe I used from Three Guys From Miami. I substituted homemade pomegranate whipped cream for the frosting. You can find my original recipe for the whipped cream here.

It was a delicious way to wrap up a fantastic evening. Thank you to POM Wonderful for helping me make this event a success.

POM Party: Drinks and Apps

This post is part of a series of recaps of my POM Wonderful Dinner Party. Catching up? See all the posts here: POM Party.

My party was about to kick off and I had a few friends helping out with lime slicing, candle lighting, and mojito muddling. We took a moment to treat ourselves to a little pomegranate liqueur before the doorbell started ringing.

While I prepped things in the kitchen, guests mingled and enjoyed pomegranate mojitos. Many of the guests did not know each other before the party, so introductions were made and they discovered that they had  a lot in common.

Including a love of mojitos.

Can you spot a familiar blogger’s beau in the photo above?

Hint: he is enjoying a pomegranate mojito…

That’s right, it’s Isaac! Brittany and Isaac from Eating Bird Food joined us for dinner. I have been reading her fantastic blog for about a year and a half AND we are neighbors, yet I just met her for the first time when I invited her and Isaac to my dinner party. Thanks Brittany for joining us and taking some beautiful photos of the event!

From my post in the kitchen, I heard the noise level in the other room rising. I thought to myself, these POM mojitos are getting dangerous, I mean, awesome! I also realized that I needed to get some food passed around pretty quickly, or else I might have a dinner guest swinging from the chandelier before we even get to the salad course.

For our first course, I served tostones with a pomegranate salsa. Tostones are fried plantains and they are popular in Cuban cuisine. I extended the Cuban theme throughout the evening, setting the mood with the festive sounds of salsa music playing in the bacground, loosening up my jubilant guests with sweet, tart, and cool POM mojitos, and giving them a taste of the cuisine to come with small bites of tostones and spicy pomegranate salsa.

I had to laugh when I brought the bowl of salsa out to the table and as I walked away heard two enthusiastic women shout, “Stop! No one can touch it until I get a picture!” Oh, bloggers. . .

The tostones were at once starchy, salty, and sweet. They paired well with the tart and tangy salsa. The soft bite of the fried plantain with the crunchy and surprising pop of the pomegranate seed was all kinds of fun for your mouth.

As the plate of tostones slowly emptied, my lovely guests started eating the salsa with forks. Garlic, onion, and saffron wafted from the kitchen into the living room, and my friends started to eye the dining room tables, looking for their placecards while continuing to joke and laugh with one another. They came with appetites and the smells from the stove and the inviting tablescape lured them into my second course.

I think these lush shades of red were a gorgeous complement to the star of the evening.

In case you ever wondered. . .

Here’s how you seat eleven people for a four course dinner party in a one bedroom apartment.

Now that we’re all seated, I’ll share with you my recipes for the drinks and appetizers, featuring POM Wonderful pomegranates.

Pomegranate Mojito

Ingredients

12 fresh mint leaves

1/2 lime, cut into wedges, plus more for garnish

2 tbsp. simple syrup (1 tbsp cane sugar dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water and chilled)

1.5 oz light rum

2 oz POM 100% pomegranate juice

4 oz club soda

Preparation

Put the mint leaves and lime slices in the bottom of a pint glass and pour simple syrup on top.

With a muddler or a large spoon, crush the lime and mint into the simple syrup to release their flavors.

Fill the cup with ice.

Pour light rum and pomegranate juice over ice and stir to mix.

Fill to the top with soda and garnish with a slice of lime.

Tostones

I originally posted my recipe here, but I have copied it below for your convenience.

Ingredients

3 to 4 large unripe (green) plantains

sea salt to taste

2 cups vegetable or olive oil for frying

Preparation

With a sharp small knife cut ends from each plantain and cut a lengthwise slit through skin. Cut plantains crosswise into 1-inch-thick pieces and, beginning at slit, pry skin from pieces. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet heat 1/2 inch oil over moderate heat until just hot enough to sizzle when a plantain piece is added. Fry plantains in batches, without crowding, until tender and just golden, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. With tongs transfer plantains as fried to paper towels to drain.

Remove skillet from heat and reserve oil. With the bottom of a heavy saucepan or a wide solid metal spatula flatten plantains to 1/4 inch thick (about 3 inches in diameter). Into a bowl of warm salted water dip flattened plantains, 1 at a time, and drain them well on paper towels.

Heat reserved oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and fry flattened plantains in batches, without crowding, until golden, about 3 minutes. With tongs transfer tostones as fried to paper towels to drain and season with salt if desired. Serve tostones immediately.

Pomegranate Salsa

Messy kitchen shot. . . eek!

Ingredients

1 medium tomato, diced

1/4 large red onion, diced

1 small bunch cilantro (about 1/2 cup, chopped)

1 cup pomegranate arils

1 jalapeñ0, seeded and finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Preparation

Combine the tomato, onion, cilantro, pomegranate, and jalapeño in a medium sized bowl. Be careful cutting the pepper; the capsaicin can linger on your fingers for days which makes it very uncomfortable to touch your eyes or mouth. I almost always wear gloves when cutting hot peppers.

Add the lime juice and olive oil and stir to combine. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tostones. Leftovers can be served with chips, or if you’re like my dinner guests, eaten right out of the bowl with forks.

POM Party: The Aftermath

Did you know that November is National Pomegranate Month?

Last night I hosted my POM Wonderful dinner party, and I am happy to report it was a big success. I and ten of my friends enjoyed pomegranate-infused food, delicious POM mojitos, and great conversation. I even met one of my favorite food bloggers, Brittany from Eating Bird Food. She posted a great recap of the event over on EBF.

The celebration will continue throughout this week as I post daily recipes of all the food featured in my four course menu, along with event photos and fun facts about POM. I, for one, am very excited to share all that I have learned this week!

sweet apron, right?

Before I sort through the photos and the juice-splattered recipes, I still have to deal with the party aftermath.

A few pounds of arils…

A neat row of clean dishes. . .

A giant stack of dirty dishes. . .

And a beautiful fall day to distract me!

Stay tuned for a whole week of pomegranate fun!

To kick things off, a simple recipe. Sometimes it’s fun to have dessert first.

Pomegranate Whipped Cream

For a crowd. . . serves 16!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons POM 100% pomegranate juice

Preparation:

In a large bowl, whip the cream and sugar with an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Mix in vanilla extract. While mixing, add pomegranate juice slowly. Be sure not to add too much juice or the cream will become too thin. I have found that 2 tablespoons works well with this amount of cream.

Enjoy on top of cake, pie, and hot chocolate!