Sunday, March 13, 2016

Whole Grain, White Bean and Winter Vegetable Dish with Pickled Red Onions

This delicious, hearty recipe is solidly in the winter comfort food category--and just happens to be healthy! You can use any whole grain that is earthy in flavor and a bit chewy. I prefer Kamut or wheat berries, but short grain brown rice or pearled barley also work well.

Kamut: For those of you who haven't heard of Kamut, it is the trademarked name of an ancient type of wheat berry that was originally grown in Egypt. It is high in protein (12-18%) and always organic. The taste is nearly identical to traditional wheat berries.

Many whole grains take 35-60+ minutes to cook--something I cannot wait for when I get home starving after a long day of work. To solve this problem (and avoid getting take-out), I cook a batch of some type of whole grain most weekends, portion into family-sized servings, and freeze in Ziplock baggies or freezer containers. Then, I just empty the frozen grains into a microwave safe container, cover with a plate, and heat for 1-3 minutes. This technique yields whole grains that taste no different than if they'd been freshly made for that meal! This recipe utilized whole grains that were precooked and reheated in this way.

This process is simple and shown in more detail in the Basic Techniques Series: CookingWhole Grains post which includes a cooking time chart for most whole grains.

Whole Grain, White Bean and Winter Vegetable Dish with Pickled Red Onions 

Pickled Red Onions:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of one medium or large lemon (zest lemon before juicing)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions

Ingredients for the rest of the dish:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 medium carrots, sliced 1/8-1/4 inch thick
1 large parsnip, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 medium or large fennel bulb, halved then sliced ¼ inch thick
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 can (or 1-1/2 cups cooked) white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked Kamut or wheat berries
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, chopped
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup chopped, roasted almonds

Combine the ¼ cup olive oil, lemon juice, salt and red onions in a small bowl. Stir and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Toss in the carrots, parsnips, and fennel slices then season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables get somewhat browned (about 10-12 minutes).

Add the beans, Kamut and brown sugar to the skillet and cook for another 3-5 minutes to heat through. Add the lemon zest and dill; stir to combine. Remove from heat and add red onion mixture; stir and season with salt and pepper.

Let rest at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serve topped with chopped almonds. Serves 6-8 as a side dish; 4 as a main dish.

Makes a great vegetarian main dish, or side dish for fish or chicken.

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