Jenn Love, Growers & Grocers – If you’ve been visiting some local farmers markets or small natural food stores lately, you might be seeing some items with which you’re not so familiar. This expanding diversity in the food marketplace is exciting, yes, but it can also be intimidating. For example, spelt, swiss chard and sorrel are all ancient in origin but rather new on the scene in today’s modern foodie explosion. Each has a unique flavor, an interesting history and outstanding health benefits. Together, they make a filling and tasty dish.
Spelt is now returning to some markets as a healthful substituted for those folks looking to limit their wheat/flour intake. Since it has a different gluten level than regular wheat, folks with wheat allergies sometimes find spelt does not bother them. It also is much higher in fiber and contains a fair amount of protein. Spelt can be found in natural food stores (such as Weavers Way Co-op and Trader Joe’s) as an unprocessed grain that look like rice, as pasta and as flour.
Directions for cooking spelt:
To cook spelt when it’s a whole grain, it’s best to rinse it a time or two in cold water and then let it soak for at least 4 hours or overnight. When it comes time to cook it, heat a little oil and sauté it for a minute or two to get it toasted. Then add enough stock or water to just cover the grains. Let it simmer with the lid on until all the liquid is absorbed (about 45 minutes). Its texture is very chewy and the flavor is mildly nutty. And, boy, does it fill you up fast!
- 2 bunches swiss chard (about 24 stems)
- 1 bunch sorrel (about 10 stems)
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 large shallot
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 – 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (amount will depend on spelt)
- 1 cup spelt
- salt and pepper
- Begin by putting the spelt on to cook. See above for full directions. Reserve a half cup of stock for greens.
- While spelt is cooking, mince garlic and shallot. Removing the stems, roughly chopped the sorrel. For the swiss chard, if you are using larger leaves, cut around the main vein in the center and then remove the stem (see picture for illustration). If you have really young/small leaver, you do not need to remove the vein. Roughly chop the swiss chard.
- Place two tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil in a skillet. Add shallot and garlic and sauté until golden. Add the chopped greens and stir briefly to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir again. Add half cup of stock and reduce heat to low. Allow greens to simmer until most of liquid is absorbed and greens are tender. Add additional salt and pepper as needed.
- To plate up, mound up spelt. Then mound the greens on top. Serve with sliced tomatoes or other fresh seasonal vegetable on the side.