Blog, Main Dishes

“Risotto” of Heirloom Einkorn Grain with Scallops

 

It doesn’t matter how much time we spend working on a new menu, making sure it’s clearly and correctly written, people often don’t seem interested in reading what is actually written down when they order!   We have been serving the rare, ancient grain Einkorn here at the restaurant for almost 2 years, and yet almost every evening, when I go over to check on guests at the table, they are exclaiming over the dish, loving the grain, and asking, “What is this? Is it rice?  Is it barley?”

No, my friends, it is exactly what it says on the menu: it’s Einkorn!  It’s rare, it’s delicious, it’s an ancient, “gluten-safe,”* cousin of wheat that is full of protein, vitamins and minerals and doesn’t spike your blood sugar!  So many recent articles about cooking with and eating more whole grains neglect to mention Einkorn, the one that we consider to be the most interesting and versatile of all.

We started using Einkorn after reading about it in the book “Wheat Belly” on the recommendation of our nutritionist.  We were asking her about wheat and gluten intolerances; we wanted to know more about them and how to restructure our cooking and baking to be more nutritious.  After many years working as chefs in professional kitchens, and eating really poor, inconsistent diets, going all day mostly on adrenaline, we had decided it was time to change things around before we ended up sick ourselves.

The research on Einkorn really is exciting: unlike modern wheat, it has never been hybridized, so it is considered a pure form of the grain.  It is also a powerful free radical scavenger, high in protein, lutein, thiamin, trace and essential minerals, fiber and B vitamins.  And Einkorn makes so many dishes better (in our humble opinion) than their wheat-counterparts:  Tabouli, couscous, pizza dough, pasta, we have been enjoying all of these dishes using Einkorn instead of wheat.  Even risotto, which certainly, by definition, should be made with rice, tastes better and has more texture with Einkorn.  And we both have found since we’ve dramatically reduced our intake of wheat, we are feeling the benefits of a more varied and healthy diet, more satisfied and less tired, and enjoying lots more nutrient-rich foods: veggies, beans, grains, and Einkorn!

I guess I should just be glad that the guests at our restaurant trust us enough to order dishes with ingredients they’ve never heard of and stop complaining about it.  And it’s just so much fun to see folks happily discovering something totally new and really delicious.

So let me give you an example of a fantastic way to enjoy this very special grain.  I’ll just share with you our recipe for a delicious “risotto” made with whole, nutritious, locally and organically grown Einkorn.

*For lots more recipes with Einkorn and how it’s “gluten-safe,” or gluten-free recipes, I  will direct you to my blog on our website, www.cheznousbistro.com.  Also you must visit www.growseed.org for lots more information from the grower, Eli Rogosa, and to order whole Einkorn grain on-line to make this delicious recipe.  Let’s create a movement to find local growers to produce the grain, and local markets that can carry it too!

Einkorn “Risotto” with Caramelized Garlic & Oven-Roasted Tomatoes topped with Pan-Seared Scallops and Pesto

Photos by Greg Nesbit Photography

Serves 6-8 as a main course

1 ½ c Einkorn grain, soaked overnight & well-drained (available at www.growseed.org)

1 medium onion, diced

2 bay leaves

½ c white wine

Approx. 1 ½ qt vegetable stock (or water, or chicken stock)Risotto with wine

Sauté the onion in 3 T olive oil until translucent, then toss the Einkorn in and sauté one more minute.  Add the bay leaves and the white wine to deglaze, then pour in enough stock to cover the grain completely, bring to boil and then reduce to slow simmer.  Cook slowly approx. 45 mins until the grain is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid.  Add more stock if necessary, and season with 1 ½ t salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper.  When fully cooked, finish the risotto with the following:

½ c grated Parmesan cheese,

¼ c caramelized garlic puree (recipe follows)

1 ½ c oven dried tomatoes (recipe follows)

½ lb fresh spinach (can sauté on the side, or wilt into the hot risotto)

 

Top with either pan-seared scallops, grilled salmon, or seasonal vegetables and serve.

 

Risotto1

Risotto2Risotto3

Caramelized Garlic:

Separate the cloves of 1 head of garlic and toss in 1 T olive oil, ¼ t salt and pepper.  Roast in a 250F oven until caramel colored, about ½ hr.  When cool, puree in a small food chopped and reserve in the fridge, up to one week.

 

Oven-dried Tomatoes:

2 pts cherry or grape tomatoes

1 T Herbes de Provence

¾ t salt

Fresh pepper

2 ½ T olive oil

 

Slice the tomatoes in half.  Toss all of the ingredients together and spread flat on a baking tray (or two).  Bake about one hr. at 250F until dry but not too browned.  Store in the fridge up to 3 days.