The flavors in this Kamut Salad with Oranges, Leeks and Blue Cheese recipe from the beautiful new cookbook, Simply Ancient Grains, will make you dig in for bite after bite.
When I was a kid, my mum took a natural foods cooking class from a woman who was considered to be the natural foods guru of Vancouver. My dad and I looked at her as though she was crazy when she brought home samples from class. Tofu, quinoa and exotic-sounding greens, all flavored with sauces made of unfamiliar herbs and spices.
Now you can found natural foods cooking classes at every community college and culinary school, with some of the most prestigious school offering diplomas in the subject.
We've come a long way, baby!
Whole grains are one of the foundation of whole foods diets, and an impressive array of grains can be found in most grocery stores. Wasn't it just a few years ago that we could only find brown rice and the occasional package of quinoa, which had probably been sitting on the shelf for months because no one knew what the heck it was?
When Maria Speck's new cookbook, Simply Ancient Grains: Fresh and Flavorful Whole Grain Recipes for Living Well arrived on my doorstep, I couldn't wait to dive in. (Scroll down for the chance to win a copy for yourself.)
The book, which boasts gorgeous photography, is divided into multiple sections, such as "Slow Mornings" and "Simply Mains", featuring inventive recipes using every whole grain under the sun. Some of the recipes that caught my eye were Warm Wild Rice Salad with Herb-Roasted Mushrooms & Parmesan (oh my!), Spicy Honey & Habanero Shrimp with Cherry Couscous (you can't go wrong with sweet and spicy) and Greek Sesame Tahini Cake with Spelt (so creative!).
This recipe caught my eye for a number of reasons. First of all, blue cheese...need I say more? Second, I don't cook with kamut nearly enough. This ancient grain hails from Egypt and has a wonderful, chewy texture with a rich, nutty flavor. Kamut is best when it is soaked overnight before cooking, so be sure to plan ahead when making this recipe.
The mellow flavor of the braised leeks pairs beautifully with the salty cheese and naturally sweet oranges. It is, quite simply, a lovely salad, one that will make you slow down and savor each bite. It's a salad that I know my dad and I would have loved if my mum and made it in those classes years ago.
Kamut Salad Recipe with Oranges, Leeks & Blue Cheese
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¾ cup Kamut berries soaked overnight and drained, or about 2 cups cooked
- 1 bay leaf optional 1 small dried red chile (optional)
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 1 large orange preferably organic
- 2 leeks cut in half lengthwise, rinsed well, and cut into 3⁄4-inch segments (about 4 cups)
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
- ⅓-½ cup mild crumbled blue cheese such as Stilton
- 1 small dried red chile optional
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
- Add the water, Kamut, bay leaf, and chile to a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until tender but slightly chewy, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to steam for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, if needed. Transfer to a large serving bowl, remove the spices, and spread to cool.
- Add the raisins to a small bowl and cover with hot water. Cut off a 2 by 1-inch strip of zest from the orange, removing any white pith, and set aside. Finely grate the remaining skin until you have 1 teaspoon zest and set aside. Peel the fruit, removing any pith, and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces to make about 3⁄4 cup (reserve the rest for another use).
- Add the leeks, broth, wine, and the zest strip to a large skillet and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the leeks are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain, remove the zest strip, and add the leeks to the bowl with the Kamut. Drain the raisins and add them to the bowl along with the orange pieces.
- In a small bowl, beat the lemon juice, grated orange zest, honey, salt, and pepper with a fork until smooth. Slowly beat in the olive oil in a thin stream until emulsified.
- To finish, pour the dressing over the salad, gently toss, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, gently toss again, and sprinkle with the walnuts and blue cheese. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review. All opinions are my own. This post contains links to my Amazon affiliate page. Any revenue made from sales through these links helps to support this blog. Thank you!