While we’re on the gluten theme, I would like to introduce you to yet another wonderful ingredient: emmer. Originating around 17,000 BC, and still unsubjected to the hybridizations of the wheat we know today, emmer (aka farro) isn’t the most productive plant, and its flour doesn’t result in the fluffiest of breads, but it may change your mind about the innate evils of wheat. Emmer contains less irritating forms of gluten than standard American wheat. It is also much higher in minerals and easier to digest than its whole-grain wheatberry counterpart. As such, many people with wheat or gluten sensitivities find they are able to eat emmer without any issues. That’s great news, since it can still be used to make wonderful breads and pastas with a chewy texture and a delicious, dark nutty taste.
If you are interested in expanding your grain-repertoire, emmer is a great addition. The berries can be used whole and gussied up anyway you would pasta. You can find many great ideas for its preparation here, although I have become particularly partial to a warm salad of whole emmer with brown butter, arugula and green garlic. If gluten is an absolute no for you, sub in quinoa (1 cup uncooked). For everyone else, emmer has been waiting for you for a long time.
Warm Emmer Berry Salad with Arugula, Green Garlic and Brown Butter
This is a perfect springtime salad, as it gets you eating loads of greens, but avoids the overload of raw, cold foods that are better left for the hotter days of summer.
- 1 cup whole emmer (also sold as farro), soaked 1-4 hours
- 1 strip kelp/kombu, optional
- 2 Tb unsalted butter
- 1 bulb green garlic, finely chopped OR 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups baby arugula
- 1 tsp dulce (optional)
- 2 tsp brown rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
- salt to taste (1/8-1/2 tsp- you will need less if you used the kombu and/or dulce)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the emmer berries with a strip of kombu (if using) until tender with just a little bite (usually 30 -40minutes, but check the package directions). Drain well. Discard the kombu strip.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook until the foam subsides and it begins to smell nutty- don’t let it burn. Add the chopped or minced garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the arugula and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute.
In a large bowl, mix together the drained emmer, arugula-garlic-butter mixture, dulce (if using), vinegar, black pepper and salt to taste. Serve warm and enjoy.
Yields 2-3 servings as a side dish.